Four Groups That Are Educating Americans About Obamacare


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In a little over two months, open enrollment officially begins for the Affordable Care Act’s statewide insurance marketplaces and Medicaid in states that have expanded the program under Obamacare. A big and diverse enrollment pool, including the right combination of young, old, sick, and healthy, is necessary to keep premiums in check. But Americans still harbor many misconceptions about Obamacare. In fact, over 40 percent of Americans aren’t sure if it’s still the law of the land, and less than a third of low-income Americans — who have the most to gain under Obamacare — say they’ve heard anything about the law from outreach campaigns.

With time running out, state and federal officials are enlisting the help of grassroots groups and community members to spread the word about Obamacare. Here are four groups who are trying to educate Americans about the law.

1. Faith leaders. In May, Maryland state officials held a summit with over 150 faith leaders in order to teach them the ins and outs of Obamacare. The leaders are especially eager to inform their congregants and communities about the law because they deal with them on a personal level and are attuned to the personal struggles of Americans who are sick, poor, or uninsured. “We see people every day,” said the Rev. Janet Craswell of Salem United Methodist Church in an interview with the Washington Post. “I mean, we are dealing with people week to week, and we’re also dealing with people at the point of crisis where they’re in hospitals and in hospice and they’re having to deal with major life issues.” The relationships between these faith leaders and their communities could be pivotal to enrolling low-income neighborhoods in Medicaid and the insurance marketplaces, since Americans are likely to trust their pastors and priests.

2. Moms. The Obama administration estimates that about 7 million Americans will enroll in the law’s insurance marketplaces in 2014. In order to keep premiums stable, officials hope that 2.7 million of those enrollees will be younger, healthier adults. But this population also has the potential to forgo insurance, believing it unnecessary since they don’t need as much care. That’s a risky bet, since just one catastrophic injury or medical condition can leave even the healthiest bankrupt — and who better to make that case than Mom? Politico reports that advocacy groups like “Moms Rising” and the AARP are teaming up to reach out to the younger generation about Obamacare. For instance, Moms Rising has created “Wellness Wonder Teams.” Each woman that signs up for the team pledges to tell at least 10 other people about the law. And they even get a prize — a refrigerator magnet that reads, “Changing More Than Diapers.”

3. Librarians. “We know that libraries have become the hub in many communities for people who need info about the Affordable Care Act,” said Ruth Holst of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine in an interview with Fox News. That explains why, in late June, the American Library Association announced that it would help the Obama administration educate Americans about the health care law. Librarians’ decision to get involved in the outreach is promising because there are over 171 million Americans who are registered to use a public library, and surveys have shown that over 63 percent of African Americans and 58 percent of Latinos say they’ve used a library in the past year. Latinos, in particular, have much to gain from Obamacare since they make up a major chunk of the uninsured in high population states like California, Florida, and Texas. But Obamacare also has much to gain from Latino enrollment, since this group skews towards the young.

4. Celebrities. On Monday, Obama administration senior adviser Valerie Jarrett hosted a meeting with a group of celebrities to promote Obamacare outreach opportunities. Participants included actors, musicians, and representatives for big names such as Oprah and the Funny or Die comedy channel. Yet again, this collection of spokesmen is seen as vital to pitching the health law to the coveted young adult demographic — and some have already begun work on their educational materials. Funny or Die is in “production for several web videos featuring well-known comedic celebrities and actors” that it will showcase for its 19 million monthly unique visitors, according to the Washington Post. The administration was also in talks to promote Obamacare though the NFL and the NBA — a partnership that would be mutually beneficial — but prospects look dim after several prominent Republicans’ warnings to the organizations to stay away from the health care law.