Bloomberg News

NFL Gets Obamacare Pitch to Market Health Law to Young Men (1)

June 24, 2013

The Obama administration is talking with officials from the National Football League and other professional sports to help promote the U.S. health law to young adults, a prime target for the government’s outreach efforts.

Healthy young men, who often avoid signing up for insurance unless it’s offered by an employer, are needed as customers for the new insurance exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act to help health plans balance the risk of covering older and sicker Americans.

The Obama administration has been under fire for not doing enough to promote the law as the deadline looms for people to start signing up for insurance through the online exchanges beginning on Oct. 1, just 100 days away. Today, U.S. officials also opened a hotline for questions about the law, and activated a website that outlines its provisions.

“The most daunting aspect is that people still don’t know enough about what’s going to change in the law and don’t have enough information, still have some misinformation,” Kathleen Sebelius, the U.S. health secretary, said today in a briefing for reporters. “Our challenge is getting the right information to the right people so they make good choices for themselves and their families.”

The NFL has been “very actively and enthusiastically engaged” in discussions about advertising and other ways to promote the Affordable Care Act, she said. Greg Aiello, an NFL spokesman, declined to comment.

2.6 Million Healthy

Insurance coverage purchased through the exchanges, which in some cases will be subsidized, takes effect January 1. The administration estimates it needs to convince about 2.6 million young, healthy people to sign up for exchange coverage to balance the risk presented by millions of older or sicker people who may flock to the marketplaces.

The Congressional Budget Office expects about 7 million people to obtain insurance through the services next year, rising to 24 million by 2023.

The hotline, at 1-800-318-2596, and a redesigned government website at healthcare.gov are part of an Obama Administration push to better educate Americans about a law that continues to mystify, according to recent surveys. The Kaiser Family Foundation said in April that 42 percent of people it surveyed weren’t sure the law was still on the books.

For now, the services “will help consumers prepare for the new coverage opportunities coming later this year,” Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said in a statement. Tavenner’s agency supervises the website and call-in line.

The telephone service asks callers to provide their home state and then offers information on how the exchange works and what information will be required to enroll in plans. A live representative can be reached through the automated menu.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Wayne in Washington at awayne3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reg Gale at rgale5@bloomberg.net


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