US/World

New Obamacare Marketing Ploy: US Administration Taps NFL To Promote Enrollment Among The Young And Healthy

NFL May Soon Promote Obamacare
The administration may soon partner with the NFL, promoting enrollment in health care plans under Obamacare. Creative Commons

The term "political football" may gain new meaning as the White House continues to discuss promotion of Obamacare with the National Football League (NFL).

On Monday, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said NFL executives have been "very actively and enthusiastically engaged" in an overture by the administration to promote enrollment in newly available insurance plans.

"We're having active discussions right now with a variety of sports affiliates" about both paid advertising and partnerships to encourage enrollment, Sebelius told reporters.

By partnering with America's preeminent sports league, the administration hopes to reach, with its marketing, large numbers of young, healthy men, exactly the type of uninsured people who are most coveted by insurers — paying into the system without necessarily taking out.

Once final provisions of the Health Care Affordability Act of 2010, also known as "Obamacare," take effect next year, government and private insurance companies would wish to attract young, healthy enrollees to keep premiums from rising dramatically, particularly as federal law prevents discrimination against those with preexisting conditions.

In the classic insurance pool, the strong subsidize the weak, and attracting healthy enrollees becomes critically important. Sebelius pointed to the marketing precedent in Massachusetts, which instituted a health care law in 2006 upon which the federal law was largely based. Then, the city's beloved Boston Red Sox filmed a commercial promoting the state's health care law.

"We know the Red Sox were incredibly effective in Massachusetts ... so it's a logical place to go," Sebelius said.

The administration continues to prepare for a hefty public relations campaign lasting through the summer, preparing for the beginning of insurance season on Oct. 1, when insurance exchanges in every state must open to enroll beneficiaries for coverage beginning in 2014. Given negative public opinion about the new federal health care law and continued misperceptions concerning its basic tenets, the administration faces a tough social marketing battle.

"I'd say 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," Sebelius said.

In addition to talks with the NFL, the administration is enlisting churches and other community groups to convince people to enroll via the online exchanges.

"We have the next couple of months laid out with a very busy and engaged schedule to make sure we're ready for marketplace enrollment on Oct. 1," Sebelius said.

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