HHS video contest targets young people, raises awareness about health reform


Video contest aims to raise awareness about health reform and encourage young people to take advantage of the benefits of health insurance.

A national online video contest has been created with the purpose to raise awareness about health reform and encourage young people to take advantage of the benefits of health insurance.

The contest is sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Young Invincibles, a national nonprofit dedicated to amplifying the voices of young adults, ages 18 to 34, on issues like healthcare.

Formed at Georgetown Law Center in 2009, the organization wanted to ensure that young people had a voice in the healthcare debate, says co-founder and executive director Aaron Smith.

“Young people are the largest group of uninsured in the country; we are much more likely to have jobs that don’t provide benefits or be unemployed; and we’re very low income,” he says. “We’ve been doing campaigns to educate and inform our generation about the new law, what they need to know and what their options are for getting covered.”

In the United States, about 19 million young adults ages 18 to 34-a group often referred to as the “young invincibles”-lack basic health insurance. A big myth surrounding young people is that they don’t have insurance because they feel like they don’t need it.

A recent study by Resonate found that of the uninsured ages 18 to 34, only 11% said they lacked insurance for this reason, whereas 35% (three times as many) said they couldn’t afford it.

Similarly, a Commonwealth Fund survey of young adults ages 19 to 29 found that when offered coverage through an employer, two-thirds (67%) took the coverage. For those who didn’t, main reasons were because they were already covered by a parent, spouse or partner (54%) or they couldn’t afford premiums (22%); only 5% turned it down because they felt they didn’t need it.

It also found that only 27% of young adults surveyed were aware of the exchanges opening for enrollment on Oct. 1.

“We’re launching the contest to really reach this generation online and through YouTube-through the channels our generation uses,” he says. “This is important to HHS as well-to reach young people-so it’s been very good to partner with them on this.”

Smith says the contest stemmed from conversations about what would be compelling online and to young people, and it aims to tap into the creativity and energy of the generation. Videos can follow three themes: you are not invincible, perform a song or animation.

“I think the idea of making this fun and something where young people could be creative was really important,” he says. “It’s hard to know what’s going to go viral, obviously, but why not tap into our generation’s creativity, create a lot of different videos and see what takes off?”

Videos will be collected from now until Monday, Sept. 23 at 11:59 pm, and public voting starts Oct. 1, coinciding with the open enrollment deadline.

“When we release the videos and get a lot of buzz online, it’ll also help create a buzz around open enrollment,” he says. “Hopefully that’ll be a big landmark day that a lot of people will pay attention to.”

Although the contest boasts a prize pool worth up to $30,000, and over 100 prizes, Smith says the potential for a video to go viral is also a big participation driver.

“I think the attention and the potential to get your video seen very, very widely is something that will be attractive to a lot of people," he says. 


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