Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Health Law Campaign to Make a Play for Sports Fans

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Health Law Campaign to Make a Play for Sports Fans

Article excerpt

Are you ready for some Steelers football?

With a side helping of Obamacare ads?

With 97 days and counting until the Oct. 1 open enrollment period begins for the nation's online health insurance marketplace, the Obama administration is in talks with major U.S. sports leagues, including the National Football League, to help spread the word about the new health law.

On Monday, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told reporters, "We're having active discussions right now with a variety of sports affiliates" about paid advertising campaigns as well as public service announcement-style partnerships.

The government views sports leagues -- particularly the NFL, whose schedule coincides with the traditional "open enrollment" period for health plans -- as ideal vehicles to reach out to uninsured male consumers, especially those in the 18-35 age demographic.

"The NFL, for instance, in the conversations I've had, has been very actively and enthusiastically engaged because they see health promotion as one of the things that is good for them and good for the country," Ms. Sebelius said during the press briefing.

Politico, a political news website, reported last week that the administration was in talks with the National Basketball Association as well.

In working with sports leagues, the Obama administration is taking a page from the Mitt Romney playbook. When the former Republican presidential candidate was governor of Massachusetts, his administration publicized the state's health care exchange during Boston Red Sox baseball games, throughout the 2007 season.

The Red Sox marketing effort -- which included a "Cover Your Bases" awareness campaign, full-page ballgame program inserts, even stand-alone kiosks at Fenway Park where people could enroll in a health plan -- "was considered a success," said Robert I. Field, law and health policy professor at Drexel University.

"The idea is to reach as many people as possible [and] draft off the goodwill of the NFL," should such a marketing deal materialize, Mr. …

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