Happy Hour Checklist: Beer, March Madness, and Obamacare

The D.C. health exchange is encouraging young people to enroll in health coverage “¦ while filling out their brackets.

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 01: U.S. President Barack Obama plays basketball with children during the annual Easter Egg Roll on the White House tennis court April 1, 2013 in Washington, DC. Thousands of people are expected to attend the 134-year-old tradition of rolling colored eggs down the White House lawn that was started by President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1878. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
National Journal
Sophie Novack
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Sophie Novack
March 20, 2014, 12:44 p.m.

With less than two weeks re­main­ing in Obama­care’s open-en­roll­ment peri­od, there’s a mad dash to catch the at­ten­tion of young people by whatever means pos­sible.

In Wash­ing­ton, that means happy hour.

The Dis­trict’s health ex­change, D.C. Health Link, is em­ploy­ing some of young people’s fa­vor­ite spring pas­times to en­cour­age them to en­roll in health in­sur­ance ahead of the March 31 dead­line: March Mad­ness and post-work drink­ing.

The ex­change is hold­ing a happy hour event at a loc­al bar today that en­cour­ages young people to “fill in your brack­ets, fill out your en­roll­ment ap­plic­a­tion.”

D.C. Health Link-cer­ti­fied as­sisters and li­censed brokers will be on site at Bar 7 from 5 to 8 p.m. today to an­swer ques­tions about the Af­ford­able Care Act and help con­sumers en­roll in cov­er­age, ac­cord­ing to a press re­lease from the D.C. ex­change. In­di­vidu­als will be able to find out if they qual­i­fy for fin­an­cial as­sist­ance from Medi­caid or fed­er­al sub­sidies on the mar­ket­place.

The event is part of a lar­ger push across the coun­try to get young people en­rolled be­fore the end of the month. Since health status is not re­cor­ded on in­sur­ance ap­plic­a­tions through the ACA, age is the closest cor­rel­ate to meas­ure the health status of those en­rolled. Healthy en­rollees are needed to bal­ance out the high­er costs of older, sick­er in­di­vidu­als and pre­vent premi­ums from in­creas­ing.

The White House has set a tar­get of 40 per­cent for young-adult en­roll­ment over­all to make the risk pools sus­tain­able. In­di­vidu­als in the coveted 18-to-35 age brack­et cur­rently make up 25 per­cent of those en­rolled na­tion­wide.

This demo­graph­ic com­prises 45 per­cent of the D.C. ex­change — the highest of por­tion of any state. The 18-to-35 age group makes up around one-third of the city’s total pop­u­la­tion, com­pared with slightly over 20 per­cent na­tion­wide, ac­cord­ing to the U.S. Census Bur­eau.

D.C. Health Link did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to in­quir­ies of how it is get­ting the word out or wheth­er oth­er sim­il­ar events are planned.

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