RI Obamacare Site: "Create 'Provocative Username'" On OkCupid To Beg Kids to Sign Up for Insurance

Posted: Mar 17, 2014 1:00 PM

HealthSource RI, the Rhode Island-specific website for the Affordable Care Act, has embraced a curious technique to boost the youth enrollment figures: creating a "Nag Toolkit" to help parents reach out to their children to encourage them to sign up for insurance.

The website for the "Nag Toolkit" features tutorials to teach adults how to use the mobile apps Snapchat, Twitter, Vine, Tinder, and OkCupid to connect with their children. While Snapchat, Twitter, and Vine are apps mostly used for communication and sharing things with friends, Tinder and OkCupid are dating/hookup apps. The goal of the "Nag Toolkit" is to assist parents with bothering their kids about health insurance in places where children would not typically expect to find their parents.

On the tutorial for OkCupid, HealthSource RI instructs parents to download OkCupid, create an account, create a "provocative username" for said account, and then message their children's personal accounts urging them to get health insurance.

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Suggesting that "provocatively" named parents email their children on dating sites is only slightly weird, yes?

The inclusion of Tinder is also a strange and ineffective strategy posed by the Nag Toolkit. Tinder is an app that presents a user with random profiles of other users, to which the user either swipes right (to indicate they find the user attractive) or swipes left (indicating they do not find the person attractive). If both the user and the user in the picture swiped right, they are labeled as a "match," and can communicate with each other via chat. HealthSource RI suggests that parents make their profile picture a picture of themselves holding a sign that says "get health insurance," and to like the same things on Facebook that their children like. However, Tinder filters users by age and by sex, and is mostly random based off of location--the chance of a mother running in to her own son is pretty slim.

Also, it's just off-the-charts creepy.

HealthSource RI is displaying two things with the creation of the "Nag Toolkit." One: they are completely clueless as to how to effectively communicate with young people, and two: the youth enrollment figures have to be abysmal. Nobody likes to be nagged (or shamed, or called a knucklehead). Things must be getting pretty desperate if states are resorting to tactics like this.

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