MNsure is bringing a bit of Hollywood into its final act.
As part of its push to get uninsured Minnesotans enrolled in a health plan by March 31, the state’s online health exchange has turned to Oscar-nominated actor Barkhad Abdi and his “Captain Phillips” co-star, Faysal Ahmed, to make public appearances and pitches over the airwaves.
The two Minneapolis men, originally from Somalia, will host the first of several events Friday at the Brian Coyle Community Center in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, where they’ll sign autographs and pose for photos while also steering people to tables where MNsure-certified navigators can sign them up for health coverage.
Abdi and Ahmed also will make TV, radio and YouTube ads for MNsure urging people to get coverage.
MNsure officials announced the new publicity push Thursday at an event at St. Paul College, where a renewed effort is underway to reach more young people.
In the next week, MNsure will increase its social media messages, fan out to college campuses across the state and host happy hour events at a handful of Twin Cities bars with navigators on site.
MNsure’s interim CEO, Scott Leitz, said such events are aimed at so-called “young invincibles,” who may be more prone to procrastinate and who may think that health insurance is too expensive.
“Young people may not feel like they need health insurance, especially if they’re relatively healthy and don’t need to visit the doctor on a regular basis,” Leitz said, adding: “But you may be one wipeout from needing to make a trip to the hospital.”
Under the Affordable Care Act, people who don’t have health insurance by March 31 could face penalties of either $95 or 1 percent of household income, whichever is greater.
MNsure is holding more than 1,000 events across the state to get people enrolled in coverage.
To date, more than 128,000 consumers have used the new online health exchange to buy a health plan, nearing its goal of signing up 135,000 people by the end of open enrollment.
Of those who have purchased a plan through MNsure, about 21 percent are aged 19-34. To help keep premiums from rising next year, young and healthy people will need to be part of the insurance pool.