WASHINGTON, June 24 (Reuters) - The Obama administration on Monday kicked off its public education campaign to get the uninsured to sign up for health coverage, with a new call center and a revamped website intended as the market entry point for millions of new consumers.
The campaign is expected to target 2.7 million younger consumers between the ages of 18 to 35, whose participation in new online health insurance exchanges is vital to the success of President Barack Obama’s 2010 healthcare reform law.
But the announcement provided no new clues about how administration officials intend to reach the target group - mostly males and non-whites - despite new concerns about whether the exchanges will be ready for open enrollment on Oct. 1.
The campaign will be one segment of a much broader national outreach effort that will include hospitals, healthcare companies and providers, community organizers, media groups and state and local officials. The challenge will be to overcome huge public skepticism, particularly among young and healthy consumers, that the new plans are worthwhile.
Two non-profit groups with strong ties to the Obama administration - Enroll America and Organizing for Action - kicked off their campaigns last week with national television ads and grass-roots organizing events in a number of states.
The website HealthCare.gov, which the administration has used as a public guide to its reform law, formally known as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, has been revamped as a consumer education site where the public can learn how to get ready for open enrollment this fall.
By October, the site will allow enrollees in 34 federally operated online marketplaces to apply for federal subsidies and shop online for plans.
The administration also offers a Spanish language site with the same information at CuidadoDeSalud.gov.
Consumers can also get information about coming benefits through a new 24-hour-a-day call center that offers services in 150 languages. Beginning Oct. 1, the call center will help consumers complete applications and select insurance plans.