The number of young Americans signing up for health insurance under Obamacare continues to lag nationwide. But here in South Dakota, it's a little better. While the goal is to have 40 percent of enrollees ages 18 to 34, in South Dakota millennials now make up 20 percent of those buying on the marketplace.
One insurance provider is looking at how to boost that number.
These Augustana College Health Care Marketing students are learning more about what's available on the Health Insurance Marketplace. Avera Health Plans is hoping these students can answer the question, "What will motivate millennials to sign up?
"They've been covered by their parents insurance for a very long time, so they don't know what to look for or why to pay attention," Augustana Marketing Professor Jaciel Keltgen said.
A key to making premiums affordable under Obamacare is to get young healthy people to buy in.
"Because if you are just going to attract those people who are sick and utilize services, that means the cost of insurance is going to go up for everyone and the cost of healthcare goes up for everyone," Deb Muller of Avera Health Plans said.
Who better to ask what motivates millennials than other millennials?
"I think they're really confused about it," Augustana Student Luke Jessen said.
Most of these students can stay on their parents insurance until they are 26, but then they'll have to get health insurance or pay a fine.
"I think we all think it's necessary, but it might be too expensive," Jessen said.
With lower incomes from their first jobs, millennials are more likely to qualify for tax breaks.
"One of the nice things that this health insurance program provides them is access to many routine and preventive services. And for our benefit plans you can get generic drugs at no cost," Muller said.
The Augustana marketing students will go out and ask millennials what will motivate them to buy health insurance and bring their findings back to Avera Health Plans. The deadline to sign up or pay a penalty is March 1st.
Saturday is National Youth Enrollment Day. But ironically, the government is shutting down healthcare.gov for maintenance at 2 p.m. central time and it won't be back up and running until Tuesday morning.