Finally, a Health Insurance Campaign That Speaks Directly to Millennials

For many Americans, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is the first time in which inexpensive, comprehensive health care coverage has become available. In particular, younger Americans searching for their first health insurance plan will benefit from ACA coverage. But the ACA marketing has fallen flat as the Obama administration and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services failed to connect with Millennials, leading to some shaking-your-head moments like this truly awful attempt to co-opt "doge."

Enter Oscar, New York state's first new health insurer in 15 years. Set up specifically to guide customers through purchasing the health care coverage provided by the ACA in a high-tech, high-engagement way, Oscar hopes to take health insurance into the 21st century in a big way. And true to their mission, Oscar has launched one of the most successful promotional campaigns for ACA coverage yet — targeted at New Yorkers, by New Yorkers, without diluting their message with memes or distractions.

Oscar accomplished this by profiling real New Yorkers who were living without insurance as well as those who have gotten health care coverage for the first time under the ACA, with the help of well-known local photographers, including Katerina Irlin, Tamara Peterson, Jacob Santiago, and others. It enlisted fellow New York start-up Niche — which tags itself the world's biggest marketer on Vine and Instagram — to help it target the young, uninsured crowd a new insurance company competing in the ACA market needs to find. According to Niche's Rob Fishman, the result was over 150,000 engagements and 500% growth on Oscar's social channels.

The lesson? Millennials don't need to be pandered to with keggers, "brosurance," or poorly-executed doge memes. That won't get young people to sign up for insurance any more than ignoring their health needs prevented a dangerously imbalanced health industry in the first place. What we need is for policy-markers and industry leaders to take us and our concerns seriously and engage us on the platforms we use to connect with each other and learn about the world every day.

Here's what Oscar came up with.

1. Kevin Lieu (Profile By Kat Irlin)

Instagrammers need healthcare too. This is Kevin Lu (@sweatengine), as photographed by Kat Irlin (@kat_in_nyc). Kevin, 32, has been uninsured since June, when he quit his job as an engineer to freelance as a photographer. He tried signing up with healthcare.gov, but couldn't get the site to work. "I can't even get a routine check-up," he said.#GetCovered #HiOscar

2. JD Sharpe (Profile By Tamara Peterson)

Meet JD (@bobbykardashian), 24, who was uninsured for over 2 years before signing up with Oscar. He caught up with our friend @_tamarapeterson to talk about living with & without healthcare. If you have a story to tell, share it with the hashtag #GetCovered. We'll be profiling more New Yorkers in the weeks to come.

3. Jordan Herschel (Profile By Tamara Peterson)

@JordanHerschel has over 100,000 followers on Instagram — but no health insurance. He lost his coverage in May after he finished grad school. If you're like Jordan, go #GetCovered! We're here to help. Photo cred: @_tamarapeterson

4. Rudy Mancuso

@oscarhealth encourages me to stay healthy. 

5. Bianca Bruno (Profile By Jacob Santiago)

Four years without health insurance! That's why I'm partnering with @OscarHealth this month. This is Bianca Bruno (@bianca_faith91), a single mom who is unable to afford coverage. While pregnant with her daughter, she was eligible for Medicaid; but that has since expired. "I'm on my own and can't afford plans," she told me. "It's just not in my budget." Everybody, it's time to #GetCovered.

6. Craig Page (Profile By Marzena)

Have you all been following @OscarHealth? They're a new and intuitive healthcare company for recently un-insured people like @craigfpage, pictured here. I caught up with Craig this week by the Hudson River, where he operates a sailing company @halcyonsailing. His healthcare expired unexpectedly in January, leaving him scrambling for a new option.

7. Marcel Severino (Profile By Marzena)

Yesterday, I got to catch up with Marcel, 25, at his neighborhood diner in the Bronx. Marcel is self-employed and has been living without health insurance since October, 2011. Eight months ago, Marcel said, his dentist told him he needed a root canal. He sent an application to Medicaid, only to find out later that it was lost in the system. Share your own health insurance stories with #GetCovered, and I'll be 

8. Nydia Mata (Profile By Jacob Santiago)

Our friend @jacobsantiago had a blast catching up with Nydia Mata @claysnails. While it's true that Oscar offered Mata more benefits & lower prices than competitors, what really won her over was the Oscar user experience. "From that gorgeous blue website to the explanation of benefits to the font in their logo, Oscar is just simple, unique & easy to follow. Their attentiveness to their customer makes them more than a healthcare provider...they're like my bff."#GetCovered #HiOscar

9. Kat Irlin (Self-Profile)

after weeks of profiling other people's stories about health care, I want to tell my own. finding a new insurance provider is stressful - especially when your days are filled running around nyc taking photos! i was so impressed with Oscar's superior customer service and great technology that I'm deciding to enroll myself! go check them out @OscarHealth (shot by@daniellaromeo)

10. Kevin Ornelas (Profiled By Jacob Santiago)

Kevin @kevin_ornelas of East Harlem took the time to speak with @jacobsantiago about his struggle with healthcare. Unable to shoulder the cost of either Blue Cross Blue Shield or HealthPlus, he opted out of healthcare and has been uninsured for the past 3 years. If you have a story to tell, share it with the hashtag #GetCovered. We'll be profiling more New Yorkers in the weeks to come.

11. Ben Lowy (Profiled By Kat Irlin)

come follow me on @oscarhealth! today I'm profiling @benlowy, who was kind enough to share his story. Ben was able to get healthcare under the affordable care act for himself but was not able to get coverage for his kids for the time being. read more over at#HiOscar and be sure to #GetCovered

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Tom McKay

Tom is a staff writer at Mic, covering national politics, media, policing and the war on drugs. He is based in New York and can be reached at tmckay@mic.com.

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