The Obamacare Campagin

Yesterday, I attended a “house party” to watch a webcast about advertising, outreach, and education efforts to let people know about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka “obamacare”. There is lots of work to do according to a poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

42 percent of Americans are unaware that the ACA is still the law of the land.

12 percent believe the law has been repealed by Congress.

7 percent believe it has been overturned by the Supreme Court.

23 percent don’t know whether or not the ACA remains law.

And about half the public says they do not have enough information about the health reform law to understand how it will impact their own family.

The webcast was provided by and talked about their primary strategy for letting people know how they can sign up for health insurance, what kind of help they might get to pay their premiums, and who qualifies for expanded Medicaid coverage.

The strategy is:  

Neighbors talking to neighbors;

Family members talking to their relatives;

Church groups handing out information;

Information booths at community events;

People talking to other people while in line at the grocery store.

There are also various community organizations that are getting government money to hire and train people whose full-time job will be to get the word out.

With over 40 million Americans not having health insurance – and being required to get covered between October 1, 2013 and March 31, 2014 – the task seems overwhelming.

In fact, the goal for this year is far from 40 million getting covered. The Congressional Budget Office is estimating that 7 million people will sign up during the first Open Enrollment Period.

After March 31, 2014, advertising and outreach will continue, but people won’t be able to enroll in health insurance until the next Open Enrollment (October 15 – December 7, 2014).

There is so much to be done, but there is so little information to give to people at this point. In states like Arizona, where the federal government is organizing and running health insurance exchanges, we won’t have details until…….. September (!!!) according to a Public Information Officer I contacted at CMS.

How do we get people excited about getting signed up for health insurance when we can’t tell them what it will look like or what it will cost them?

The “houseparty” I attended to learn about how to get the word out about Obamacare had three people in attendance (including me).  That doesn’t seem like a great start to the community outreach effort. There is so little time, so little information, and so many people to reach. And then there are Republicans who are trying to cut funding for outreach efforts and keep trash-talking about Obamacare.

It’s going to take a village to promote Obamacare. It’s going to take people talking to people. It’s a big, big job.


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