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Marketing studies help craft health overhaul pitch

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 31, 2013 at 11:16 am •  Published: March 31, 2013
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Administration officials say they see an opportunity to change the national debate about health care. They want to get away from shouting matches about the role of government and start millions of practical conversations about new benefits that can help families and individuals.

The HHS marketing materials reveal some barriers to getting the uninsured to embrace the law.

The Healthy & Young lead busy lives and tend to be procrastinators. Plus, why would they need health insurance if they're full of vigor? The Passive & Unengaged fear the unknown and have difficulty navigating the health care system. The Sick, Active & Worried dread making wrong decisions.

Marketing for the new system will start this summer, going into high gear during the fall after premiums and other plan information becomes public.

There's already widespread concern that the new coverage costs too much, because of a combination of sicker people joining the pool and federal requirements that insurers offer more robust benefits. A recent study by the Society of Actuaries forecast sticker shock, estimating that insurers will have to pay an average of 32 percent more for medical claims on individual health policies.

The administration says such studies are misleading because they don't take into account parts of the law that offset costs to individuals and insurance companies, along with other provisions that promote competition and increase oversight of insurance rates.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., who has long supported coverage for the uninsured, is predicting vindication for Obama once people see how the program really works.

"It's harder to sell what is a pretty new idea for Americans while it is still in the abstract," said Schakowsky, who represents Chicago. "I think as people experience it, they're going to love it, much like Medicare."

That will put wind in the sails of Democratic candidates. "I think it's going to be a very popular feature as far as the American way of life before too long," Schakowsky added.

But Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky says Democrats have been predicting for years that Americans would learn to love the health care overhaul and that has not happened. McConnell had his picture taken next to a 7-foot stack of "Obamacare" regulations recently to underscore his disdain.

"I agree that it will be a big issue in 2014," said McConnell. "I think it will be an albatross around the neck of every Democrat who voted for it. They are going to be running away from it, not toward it."

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Online:

HHS marketing study — http://tinyurl.com/aycgowc