Dr. Huhman and Dr. Quick's research helps Illinois residents enroll in health insurance.

It's official! After open enrollment for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act ended on February 15, 2015, 11,688,074 Americans were insured through ACA. Almost 350,000 of these were from Illinois. An important group to get enrolled in ACA is young adults, aged 18 to 34, because they are needed to balance the higher costs of care for non-Medicare covered older adults.

Young adults in selected Illinois rural communities were reached during the recent enrollment period (November 15 to February 15) through a social marketing initiative that encouraged them to sign up for insurance. Dr. Marian Huhman and Dr. Brian Quick, Department of Communication faculty, joined an interdisciplinary team to implement the initiative at four community colleges. Through funding by UI Extension, the team implemented an intervention that included radio advertising, social media, print messages, and an in-person component. Research comparing the different strategies is now being analyzed.

Research tells us that personal stories are a powerful way to reach an audience with persuasive messages. We asked one of our own Communication graduate students, Niki LaVoie, to share her story about her experiences and what she gained by seeking insurance through ACA. This video was posted on the community college Facebook pages and received an impressive number of views. Click here to view her inspiring story.