CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Are you a young New Hampshire man who shops at Wal-Mart and Market Basket and spends a lot of time on Facebook? Expect to hear a lot about the Affordable Care Act and health insurance in the next two months.
A recent survey of 1,200 adults across the state is giving those marketing the federal health overhaul law in New Hampshire a clearer picture of their target audience. Karen Hicks, who is overseeing the consumer outreach efforts, presented the survey results to the state’s Health Exchange Advisory Board on Friday, saying New Hampshire’s uninsured residents skew younger than national models had suggested, with 55 percent under the age of 40.
The survey, conducted in late December, included more than 550 uninsured residents and was designed to help Hicks and her team develop direct mail pieces that will go out this month, radio ads that will begin in mid-February and television ads coming out by the end of February. The goal was to better identify who is uninsured in the state and what kind of message might be most effective, Hicks said.
According to the survey, a third of the state’s uninsured residents are men ages 18-39, and more than a quarter are men over 40. Women under 40 make up 20 percent of the uninsured population, and women over 40 are 15 percent of the total. More than 75 percent don’t have a four-year degree and close to 85 percent are hourly wage earners. Three-quarters of them use Facebook, and more than half shop at Wal-Mart or Market Basket, so outreach officials plan to approach those retailers to explore possible partnerships, Hicks said.
Women appear more concerned with getting insurance to ensure illnesses are caught and treated before they become too serious, while younger men feel more invincible. They might benefit from being reminded that even if they are healthy, they have a responsibility to their families to get covered, Hicks said.
For all audiences, the focus will be on three key messages, Hicks said: affordability, stability and choice.
“This is all about the money,” she said. “For most people, there’s no philosophical problem about getting health insurance, it’s all about whether it is affordable.”
The advisory board, whose members represent consumers, health care providers, insurers and businesses, also got an update from Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the only company offering individual health insurance policies through the new marketplace. Company president Lisa Guertin said Anthem has received applications from about 10,000 people, about half of whom have paid their first premiums.
The others have until Jan. 15 to pay and get coverage retroactive to Jan. 1, but Guertin said that deadline may be extended.
Everyone who has paid premiums should receive new ID cards by next week, she said. She acknowledged that some consumers have become frustrated in their attempts to get more information, saying each call to the company’s help line has been taking twice as long as anticipated, and the volume has increased dramatically.
Though enrollment opened Oct. 1, the federal website for applying was plagued with problems early on. More than half of the applications came in during the last two weeks before the late December deadline for coverage starting Jan. 1, Guertin said.
“It was nothing, nothing, nothing, and then everything all at once,” she said. “The same holds true on the call center side.”
Anthem will be adding staff to its call center in the next few weeks, she said.