The Campaign To Sell Obamacare

Yglesias emphasizes its importance:

The people most in need of health care services will presumably be the most motivated to sign up expeditiously on their own. From a humanitarian viewpoint, that’s fantastic. From a program stability viewpoint, however, it’s a bit of a problem. The state officials running marketplaces—and the federal ones running the marketplaces in the large number of GOP-controlled statesthat have refused to set up their own marketplaces—face the challenge of enrolling enough young and healthy people to create balance. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that out of the approximately 20 percent of the population that’s currently uninsured or insured on the individual market, about 7 million people will sign up for an exchange plan in Obamacare’s first six months. The administration believes that in order to make the math work, out of that 7 million, about 2.7 million enrollees should come from the 18-to-30 age bracket.

To get the job done, they have essentially three arrows in their quiver: campaign-style demographic targeting, partnerships with people outside the formal federal health care apparatus, and substantial subsidies.

Ezra Klein and Sarah Kliff detail the administration’s strategy:

Can the federal government convince young, healthy people to buy health insurance?

[David] Simas [director of public-opinion research and polling for President Obama’s reelection campaign] is focusing his formidable analytical resources on understanding this group. He begins clicking through a Powerpoint that holds reams of data on these young adults. “What do we know about them?” he said. “They’re overwhelmingly male.” Click. “They’re majority nonwhite.” Click. “One out of every three lives in California, Florida or Texas.” Click. “We have census maps breaking this down into the smallest geographic units.”

A couple more clicks and Simas is showing which television channels they like to watch (Spike TV, among others), which social media platforms they use (Twitter and Facebook), and who they listen to (“No surprise. It’s mom.”). “We can figure out the message that works best for this group,” Simas said.

The focus on young, minority voters. The heavy reliance on microtargeting. The enthusiasm about nontraditional communications channels. The analytics-rich modeling. It sounds like the Obama campaign. And administration officials don’t shy away from the comparison.