HHS to Award $30,000 in Taxpayer-Funded Cash Prizes for Obamacare Promotion Videos

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will award $30,000 in taxpayer-funded cash prizes for a video contest designed to promote Obamacare among young people, according to an HHS spokesperson.

In addition, HHS has awarded $67 million for the hiring of “navigators” in local communities to promote the benefits of Obamacare.

The organization Young Invincibles is advertising the contest on their web site healthyoungamerica.org.

The spokesperson told PJ Media that the videos submitted in the contest are only going to be judged by federal employees and the awards will be paid for with outreach and education funds in the Affordable Care Act.

Individuals may submit their own video or vote for their favorite among those created. While HHS controls all of the federal funds for the prizes, both organizations will promote the contest.

A post on the Young Invincibles website announcing the contest said participation in the contest is “about more than the opportunity to win money to help pay off those pesky student loans; this is your chance to help your friends and other young people learn about their new health insurance options.”

Young adults are a key demographic that HHS is trying to sign up for federal subsides in the exchange marketplace set to launch on Oct. 1.

HHS and Young Invincibles are allowing individuals to create videos in three different categories.

“The ‘You Are Not Invincible’ theme lets you to show off your creative and wacky side. Videos should be a short skit that shows a time when a young person would need health insurance. Accidents happen. Just ask Scarlet,” says the Young Invincibles website under a short video of a female falling off of a table.

“I can only hope she had health insurance after this infamous wipeout. Entrants are encouraged to go big but stay safe!”

The next theme is “perform a song” about “health insurance or even create the next viral parody.”

The website provides the infamous Will Ferrell Saturday Night Live cowbell skit as an example to follow.

Animation is the third category.

“If you have serious computer animation skills, you could create an engaging, informative video about critical facts of Obamacare,” says the Young Invincibles website.

The deadline for submissions is September 23, 2013. The health insurance marketplace exchanges are set to open nationally on Oct 1. The public will be able to vote for their favorite videos between Oct. 1 and Oct. 15.

According to Forbes, “everyone can purchase policies through the health insurance exchange” but coverage is only “subsidized for certain individuals where insurance is deemed too costly.”

Applicants earning less than 400% of the poverty level would qualify for a federal subsidy.

“If insurance costs more than 9.5% of earnings for employer based coverage, it is considered too costly, and those under 400% poverty level can buy insurance on the exchange using a subsidy. Those making 400% and over can still buy insurance on the exchange, but will not receive a subsidy,” Forbes reports.

Navigators are one of the tools being used by HHS in their Obamacare sign-up efforts. Navigators will go door-to-door in local communities and inform Americans about their coverage options in the exchange marketplace under Obamacare.

HHS has issued $67 million in federal grant awards to 105 navigator applicants. The entities that received the grants are located in the 34 states that have a federally facilitated or a state partnership health insurance marketplace.

“Navigators will be among the many resources available to help consumers understand their coverage options in the Marketplace,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

“A network of volunteers on the ground in every state – health care providers, business leaders, faith leaders, community groups, advocates, and local elected officials – can help spread the word and encourage their neighbors to get enrolled.”

“These Navigator grantees and their staff will serve as an in-person resource for Americans who want additional assistance in shopping for and enrolling in plans in the Health Insurance Marketplace beginning this fall,” said an HHS press release.

When the enrollment process is underway, navigators will take applicants’ Social Security numbers, examine their tax records and access their personal health information.

Secretary Sebelius said navigators “are going to be required to adhere to strict data security and privacy standards, including how to safeguard consumers' personal information.”