Administration lifts veil on O-Care campaign

The Obama administration is revealing new details about its effort to promote ObamaCare after enrollment data revealed that younger people represent only one quarter of the law's sign-ups so far.
 
Federal health officials and their allies are targeting 25 key cities like Dallas and Miami in an attempt to register millions more uninsured patients before the end of March, according to an administration official.

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Efforts aimed specifically at young people include paid media advertisements on networks like ESPN and during programs like "Family Guy," "Vampire Diaries," "X Factor" and the Sochi Olympics, the official said.

The campaign was described as a wide-ranging outreach effort whose results have run the gamut from online videos to events at local bars to door-to-door canvassing.

Behind the operation are administration officials, insurance companies, outside health and enrollment groups and local elected officials, all coordinating to spread the word, the official said.

The details come as the administration seeks to regain its footing after a disastrous launch for ObamaCare's federal exchanges that cut into the law's initial enrollment numbers.

Technical problems that once plagued HealthCare.gov have abated along with the political firestorm over canceled health plans. As a result, federal officials have an opening to restart promotional efforts that were put on hold while the dust settled last fall.

It is difficult to say how effective the campaigns will be, but ObamaCare supporters say they can't come soon enough. The public is still widely confused about the healthcare law, and many uninsured people still are not aware of or have not visited the marketplaces where they're meant to obtain coverage.

Republican critics are also spending tens of millions of dollars to ensure ObamaCare remains a top issue in November's midterm elections, placing a drag on attempts to cast the law in a positive light.

Reaching young people in particular is crucial for the reform's success. The Affordable Care Act will allow many sick patients to join the insurance market for the first time, and the best way to balance out their costs is with a strong enrollment wave from the young and healthy.

Data released Monday found that roughly 25 percent of sign-ups have been from people ages 18 to 34, well below the benchmark of 40 percent once desired by the administration. Officials downplayed the relevance of younger sign-ups so far, however, noting that most will happen closer to the final deadline in February or March.

Comedy troupe Funny or Die released a video Tuesday that typifies ObamaCare advertisements aimed at young people. In the video, actress Aisha Tyler receives a variety of slapstick injuries after refusing to wear a helmet, seat belt and other protective gear.

"You never need health insurance until you need it," the video states in bold lettering.