THE NEW FACE OF OBAMACARE: Illinois using an action figure to
push health care.
To get more people to sign up for health care, the state is bragging
it will spend $150,000 on ads for the satirical news site The Onion.
"We know that to effectively reach young invincibles — who are 53
percent of our uninsured residents in Illinois — we have to work
with nontraditional, and especially digital, sources for news and
entertainment. That's where The Onion fits right into our outreach
strategy," Jennifer Koehler, executive director of Get Covered
Illinois, said in a news release.
Neither Koehler nor anyone at Get Covered Illinois responded to
Illinois Watchdog's request for an interview.
Koehler's statement said the partnership will focus on fake
headlines and fake news stories about someone forced to sell their
action figures to pay medical bills.
But on a site already filled with fake stories about noncommittal
cult members and lamenting rhinoceroses, state Sen. Dave Syverson,
R-Rockford, worries Illinois' funny ads won't land.
IT'S FUNNY?: Syverson says people look to the Onion for jokes, not
"You always have to be careful when you're advertising on the
Onion," Syverson told Illinois Watchdog. "Because readers don't
always know if that's a joke ad or a legitimate ad."
Syverson said it's clear the ad agency doesn't understand Obamacare.
"Consumers aren't stupid," Syverson said. "The reason Obamacare is
not having success is because the coverage is very poor, the benefits are very
poor and the cost is very expensive."
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Illinois' last round of Obamacare enrollment numbers showed just
61,000 people selected an insurance plan, and it's unclear on how
many actually bought a plan.
Syverson said few of those people are the "uninsured" Obamacare was
supposed to help.
"Between 70 percent and 75 percent of those who have been enrolled
since this program began in October were people that were previously covered," Syverson explained.
"People who were on (Illinois' state-based high-risk insurance) or people who
had private health policies, that now that the federal government is offering a
subsidy, they just switched."
Illinois has added almost 150,000 people to Medicaid, because of
But the state hasn't added enough young and healthy people to pay
for the older and sicker people already enrolled.
"Get Covered Illinois understands their target demographic and is
taking a creative approach to tailor a message to that audience that
goes beyond traditional marketing," Mike McAvoy, president of Onion
Inc., said in the state's news release.
Illinois has been using $30 million from the federal government to
do anything it can to sell Obamacare. Remember the Day of the Dead
The new Onion ads will start soon and ramp up as the March 31
deadline for coverage draws closer.
Contact Benjamin Yount at
Ben@IllinoisWatchdog.org and find him
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