Feds focus exchange outreach on largely uninsured areas

Millions of uninsured consumers have yet to sign up for a health insurance exchange, so the Obama administration is honing its enrollment campaign on certain areas where the uninsured population is prevalent.

Fifty percent of all uninsured consumers live in only 116 counties and more than 20 percent of uninsured live in 13 counties, according to a study from the Associated Press. The study also found that half of all young adults live in 108 counties. Now, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services is launching a promotion that targets 25 key metropolitan areas, the AP reported.

"Our efforts are aimed at making sure we can raise awareness in areas with the largest concentration of uninsured people," Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Communications Director Julie Bataille and head of promotional rollout, told the AP.

Those areas include Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; Cleveland; Dallas; Detroit; Houston; Indianapolis; Nashville, Tenn.; New Jersey; Miami; and Philadelphia. Other key areas are Los Angeles, where more than 2 million uninsured people account for about 5 percent of the national uninsured population, the AP reported.

Cook County, Ill., which includes Chicago, also sits high on the list of key focus areas for the federal outreach campaign. The AP study found the county has the third largest uninsured population and the third largest population of uninsured young adults.

"The administration is well aware of where the uninsured population lives," said Lynn Blewett, director of the State Health Access Data Assistance Center at the University of Minnesota, which conducted the AP study. "It's to their benefit to get out to the states where they are going to have the biggest bang for their buck."

HHS will likely address the general lack of public knowledge about subsidies, which a December Enroll America survey determined was the primary barrier to consumers enrolling in exchange plans, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

To learn more:
- read the AP article