and money may run short to educate consumers on what they need to know before
they sign up for health care.
Millions of American citizens will be eligible to shop for insurance in the online marketplaces 1st of October.
A mere 6 months before the actual process can begin, there are only questions regarding the reaching out to consumers.
According to Ron Pollack, executive director of the health advocacy group Families USA and a close administration ally, only $40 - $50 million from federal grants may be available to hire nonprofit groups to work with consumers.
"That's a pittance compared to what's needed to make the application process work," Pollack says. "It doesn't even scratch the surface" even in tandem with privately funded efforts.
Enrolling people under a law that few know anything about was always going to be challenging. Three years after the law's passage, polls show widespread ignorance about its provisions.
"It's not hard to get sick people to sign up for health insurance," says Bob Laszewski, a Virginia-based consultant and former insurance executive. "But it's really hard to get healthy people to sign up. If we don't get a healthy cross-section, the financial structure of the ACA unravels," and premiums will skyrocket.
Private foundations, health advocacy groups and health industry groups have promised to fill in the gaps for Texas and Florida.
"I feel like we need a 'Ready, set, go,' " from the federal government, says Bee Moorhead, executive director of Texas Impact, a faith-based group, who is hoping that federal grants to pay nonprofit groups for help will be announced soon.
"In Texas, people have been tapping their toes and drumming their fingers," she says. "We know we have a big uninsured population, we know we have a strong faith-based community working hand-in-hand with the state, and we know we have the ability to get things done. We need someone to say, 'It's time. Let's do it.' "
Enroll America, an offshoot of Families USA staffed with tech-savvy former campaigners for Barack Obama, is also hoping to step up to fill the gaps. The group has 13 employees now and hope to add 300 where the rate of uninsured is high, says President Anne Filipic, a former White House official.
With only six months left, there's also still time for the president to "use the megaphone," says Dan Mendelson, CEO of consulting firm Avalere Health and a former Clinton administration official.
So far, however, Mendelson says, the administration has not focused on reminding the public that purchasing health insurance will soon be "an obligation that everyone has," whether they like it or not. People need time to come up with the money they will need.
Hannah Punitha (IRDA Licence Number: 2710062
Jenny Gold April 2013