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Administration Begins Obamacare Push

Image: Administration Begins Obamacare Push

By Dan Weil   |   Monday, 24 Jun 2013 12:47 PM

The Obama administration kicked off a campaign Monday to inform citizens about their benefits under the Affordable Care Act with a restructured government website and a toll-free phone number to answer questions.

The effort comes as a run-up to the Oct. 1 start date for enrollment in the new state and federal health insurance exchanges that make up much of Obamacare's core, and there is some concern about whether the exchanges will be operational by then, The Hill reported.

Polls show that many people have no idea how the new insurance markets will work and what kind of coverage they provide. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll in April showed that 42 percent of Americans didn't even know that Obamacare is still a law.

"The new website and toll-free number have a simple mission: to make sure every American who needs health coverage has the information they need to make choices that are right for themselves and their families — or their businesses," Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement.

As part of the campaign, HHS has restructured its HealthCare.gov website to focus on consumer education about how to enroll in Obamacare. There's also a Spanish version of the site, CuidadoDeSalud.gov.

The campaign will likely focus on 2.7 million Americans aged of 18 to 35, Reuters reports. Their participation in the health insurance exchanges could help make or break Obamacare, but it's still unclear how the administration plans to engage that demographic consisting of mostly males and minorities.

The effort is part of a much bigger attempt by the White House to get hospitals, healthcare companies, doctors, community organizers, media groups, and state and local officials aboard the Obamacare train.

Enroll America and Organizing for Action, two advocacy groups with strong connections to the White House, began their efforts to promote Obamacare last week with national television ads and local organizing events in several states.

Much of the public, particularly young and healthy consumers, have been reluctant to embrace the Affordable Care Act.

As for the young people that the administration is trying to reach, National Review Online columnist John Fund argues that it makes no sense for them to pay for insurance from the new exchanges.

"Young people will be asked to buy policies that don't reflect the low risk they have of getting sick," he writes.

"Obamacare allows health insurers to vary premiums based on age, but they can charge older customers only up to three times as much as healthy young customers, while most insurers have as much as a five- or six-to-one ratio. This means lower prices for older (and wealthier) folks, but high prices for the young," said Fund.

Fund wrote that House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan said that the nation's youth will have "sticker shock" over the cost of the mandated insurance.

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