Obamacare health insurance campaign seeks young Coloradans
March 23, 2014
DENVER — Colorado health advocates are hitting grocery stores and malls, and even sending out leggy models to get attention for the final days to get health insurance or face a fine.
Four scantily clad models sat at a makeshift bar and served nonalcoholic juice Thursday in downtown Denver. The message was that time is running out to get insurance.
"You guys covered with health insurance?" model Meghan McMahon asked a group of commuters walking to a nearby office tower. "It's last call. March 31 is the last call."
The models gave stickers to people who said they had health insurance. Those who didn't were handed "last call" fliers urging them to visit a nearby pop-up store erected to help sign up uninsured Coloradans before the March 31 deadline to avoid fines for not having insurance.
Colorado is doing relatively well getting folks insured. More than 250,000 people had gotten coverage by March 17 through the state-run insurance exchange. More that 100,000 of those bought private insurance.
A spokesman for the insurance exchange, Ben Davis, said Colorado already has enrolled enough people to make the Connect For Health Colorado exchange sustainable.
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Some states have extended open enrollment deadlines because of glitches in their exchanges. Davis said Colorado won't extend the deadline but will give credit to those who attempted to enroll by the end of the month.
It's too soon to say how long the Colorado exchange plans to keep its call center operating to help folks sign up.
"We will do our best to work with every customer attempting to buy insurance," Davis said.
But Colorado is facing the same dilemmas playing out nationwide. Many of those signing up are older, with higher health care costs. So far, about 24 percent of people signing up in Colorado are ages 18 to 34.
Colorado's sprint to the end of open enrollment includes increased visits by so-called "navigators" to grocery stores, libraries and schools over the next two weeks.
The "last call" promotion in Denver was run by a nonprofit insurance company, not Colorado's state-run insurance exchange.
Organizers said the promotion wasn't aimed just at younger people.
"We want to make sure everyone is feeling that deadline," said Tami Parker, a grassroots organizer for the insurance cooperative.