Newspaper article

NFL's Help Sought on Promoting Health-Insurance Coverage

Newspaper article

NFL's Help Sought on Promoting Health-Insurance Coverage

Article excerpt

This article was produced by Kaiser Health News.

Top federal health officials are in talks with the National Football League to promote the health law's insurance marketplaces that begin enrolling people Oct 1.

"The NFL is enthusiastically engaged ... and they see health promotion as a good thing for them and for the country," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said during a media briefing.

Sebelius said the administration is also talking to other major sports franchises about improving public awareness of the Affordable Care Act online insurance exchanges, which are a critical way the federal health law expands insurance coverage.

The administration is aiming to sign up about 7 million people through the marketplaces before the open enrollment period ends March 31, 2014. The coverage takes effect Jan. 1.

Subsidies based on income

Most people shopping in the marketplaces will be eligible for federal subsidies that vary based on their income. Surveys show little public awareness of the exchanges, or the availability of subsidies, particularly among the uninsured who are most likely to use them.

"We are having active discussions with a variety of sports affiliates with paid advertising and partnerships," Sebelius said, adding that she has been involved in the talks personally.

The NFL and other professional sports organizations such as the National Basketball League and Major League Soccer are obvious places for the federal government to target young men to sign up for coverage, Sebelius said.

The administration needs to find millions of young and healthy people to help balance out its insurance risk pool to make up for the older and sicker people who are expected to sign up. In 2014, insurers will no longer be able to turn people away or charge higher rates to people with pre-existing health conditions.

Mass. advertised at Fenway Park

When Massachusetts launched a similar marketplace in 2006 -- an effort that became a prototype for the federal health law -- the campaign was advertised during Red Sox games at Fenway Park. That marketing is widely credited with helping build public acceptance. …

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