Two health care companies have taken up the White House’s challenge of encouraging millions of uninsured Americans to get coverage during the open enrollment period.
ZocDoc, a company that helps people book doctor’s appointments online, and Oscar Health, a relative newcomer in health insurance, have launched campaigns to urge those without insurance to sign up for coverage at Healthcare.gov before the Dec. 15 enrollment deadline for coverage in the new year.
“Traditionally what we’ve done is use White House channels, like WhiteHouse.gov or the Facebook page, to talk about the administration’s priorities,” said White House Chief Digital Officer Jason Goldman, a longtime tech industry executive.
This time out, the White House enlisted the help of the private sector in putting out the word about the health care options offered through the Healthcare.gov marketplace. It’s similar to an approach President Obama used when he urged Americans to help Syrian refugees with donations made through crowdfunding sites Kickstarter and Instacart. When the first lady called on the private sector to help employ veterans and end homelessness, Uber and Lyft donated free rides to tens of thousands of Americans who needed help getting to job interviews.
ZocDoc Chief Executive Oliver Kharraz said his company will contact customers who have paid out-of-pocket for health care services to urge them to sign up for coverage through Healthcare.gov.
“It’s all in the name of removing barriers to get access to care, which is really what we are all about,” said Kharraz.
Oscar Health, a company that uses technology to guide people to better care, is distributing a video that explains how the Affordable Care Act (also dubbed Obamacare) works.
“We sell in this market created by the ACA,” said Mario Schlosser, Oscar Health chief executive and co-founder. “So we’ve got to explain to you why you should buy insurance. We always have to do a lot of education.”
The government is also getting an assist from startups that aren’t working in health care or insurance, in addition to the expected celebrity promos from figures like Magic Johnson (though with not quite the same gusto as when the site launched a couple years ago). The Shade Room, a social media-based celebrity gossip mag launched in 2014, reminded its 2.4 million Instagram followers with a post about the Dec. 15 enrollment deadline.
The Shade Room, which the New York Times Magazine called “Instagram’s TMZ” earlier this year, is run by Angie, a woman in her mid-20s who prefers to go by her first name only. She said that the post “wasn’t a plug at all.”
“When I found out the deadline was approaching this year, I just posted it because I wanted our readers to know about it,” Angie told Re/code in a phone interview. “I missed the deadline the first time around, and didn’t have health care because I didn’t have much money. I got sick a couple of times and went to the hospital, and had a lot of bills. This was during the time when the Shade Room wasn’t making any money yet.”
“I need to let those people out there who have had the same experience know about it,” she added. “Those things can happen.”
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.