Since the rollout of Obamacare’s health insurance
exchanges last October, administration officials have stressed that
problems should be judged in a broader context, because open
enrollment is a six-month process.
But that six month process is rapidly drawing to a close. Open
enrollment ends on March 31, and the administration still
has a long way to go before meeting its demographic and sign-up
The White House and allied health groups like Enroll America and
Planned Parenthood have ramped up efforts to boost enrollment,
using the same sort of individualized targeting that Obama utilized
so effectively in his presidential campaigns. Some of it is
advertising, but there’s also a lot of in-person pitching involved.
And that turns out to be rather difficult. The New York
reports on the struggling efforts to boost
The hunt for the uninsured in Broward County got underway one
recent afternoon when 41 canvassers, armed with electronic maps on
Samsung tablets, set off through working-class neighborhoods to
peddle the Affordable Care Act door to door. Four hours later, they
had made contact with 2,623 residents and signed up exactly 25
Many of their targets, people identified on sophisticated
computer lists generated in Washington as unlikely to have health
insurance, had moved away. Some were not home. Many said they
already had insurance through Medicare, their parents or a job. A
few were hostile at the mere mention of President Obama’s health
There are an awful lot of strike-outs. And potential successes
sometimes end up stymied by ongoing problems with the website:
By the end of her shift, Ms. Morwin had knocked on 115 doors and
talked to 16 people about enrolling. Not one of them signed up.
In some cases, problems with the health care website are still
frustrating the canvassers’ best efforts.
Ryanbo Morales, 27, a Planned Parenthood worker and a former
campaign volunteer for Mr. Obama, searched for the uninsured one
recent day with the same zeal he brought to looking for voters
during the president’s 2012 re-election campaign. But when he
finally found Chrystal Rhodes, 24, who said she did not work enough
hours at JetBlue to qualify for its health insurance, his efforts
to help her sign up on his Samsung tablet were stymied when she
kept getting an enrollment error.
“This is really unfortunate,” Mr. Morales said.
The Obama administration put quite a bit of effort into applying
election-style data-sorting to the Obamacare enrollment effort, and
prior to the rollout, they were selling the effort as
the president’s final campaign. But reports like these suggest
that the push is not working nearly as well had been hoped. There
are a couple things to be learned from this. One is that marketing
and outreach tactics that work well in one arena—say, national
elections—don’t always translate to other activities, like
convincing people to purchase health coverage. The other is that
while good demographic data and analytics can be helpful in making
a sales pitch, they’re of limited use if people aren’t actually
interested in buying the product.
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