In typical Hollywood fashion - 90 days before the rest of the nation - Californians are invited to the debut of “Covered California”, the state-run health insurance exchange beginning October 1, 2013. It’s not to say they’re getting VIP treatment or Obama’s keen on celebrities selling Obamacare through film and movies... Though did anyone read the 127-page document released by Covered California, specifically page 66?
“Grey’s Anatomy, Modern Family, the Biggest Loser, Dr. Oz and others will be approached and pitched to incorporate story lines or mentions of health care reform that would reinforce campaign messages and would air in Phases III – VII (August 2013 – December 2015 time frame).”
The reason California gets its exchange first is because it was the first state to outline its health exchange agenda. Coincidentally, the Golden State ranks highest in uninsured residents, according to California Health Care Foundation. An estimated 7.1 million Californians lack insurance, the largest of any racial or ethnic group being the Latino population, who make up 59% of the state’s uninsured and have the highest uninsured rate: 31%. Makes sense that the same 127-page document labels Latinos “A Critical Target” and spends the next 9 pages outlining plans to reach out and sign up Latinos for insurance. This is compared to African Americans who have 6 pages, Asian Pacific Islanders who have 5 pages, and American Indians who get 1 page of plans.
Reading along, this document shows aggressive strategies to reach out and educate each ethnic community on comprehensive, quality health care using massively-influential entertainment organizations.
Univision - the television network with the largest Spanish-speaking audience in the world - will participate in several Latino community events, including: Feria Es El Momento, Univision’s Blood Drive, and Salud Es Vida Enterate Health Fair. Additionally, celebrity endorsements who engage Latinos, specifically Rosario Dawson, Co-Founder of Voto Latino, Eva Longoria, spokesperson for Padres Contra El Cancer, and George Lopez, Founder of the George Lopez Foundation, are examples “Covered California” may consider.
37.8 percent of African Americans were uninsured in 2007-2008, according to New America Media, an unfortunate number considering 68 percent of African-American adults in the state are overweight or obese. To the rescue comes Stevie Wonder, who Covered California mentions has worked with them last year and is the owner of one of the most popular urban contemporary radio stations in Los Angeles – KJLH-FM.
But one man can’t “spread the gospel” of health insurance alone (And yes, the quote is actually in the plan). “The Groove Mobile” (their name for the bus tour) will be used to communicate the importance of enrollment. Visiting select communities, partnering with summer festivals, and attending health fairs with a heavy African American presence (heavy in numbers, not mass), this tour will be covered by news outlets and BET.
According to the U.S. Census, California has the largest number of Asian Pacific Islander-owned small business with more than 500,000. Despite admitting how much emphasis it’ll place on targeting this group (second only to the Latino community), Covered California details little strategy in enrolling them. Other than mentioning possible partnership with Lisa Ling, a California-native and prominent Pacific Islander television journalist, honorable mentions for celebrity endorsement hopefuls included are: George Takei, Far East Movement, and a few “notable” Youtube directors.
And how are those American Indians doing? To summarize their single page, Covered California “will continue to meet and collaborate with these Tribal groups” and promises to detail outreach plans in the future.
The entertainment industry is not the only group courted by California’s exchange program. Sports teams, religious organizations, and even super markets are potential partners to engage, educate, and enroll you in affordable healthcare. No matter where turn or who you talk to, health insurance will be in your face in 2013.