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Can your uncle sell you on ‘Obamacare?’

Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 7:52 am

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Can your uncle be a better pitchman for the health overhaul than the president?

Supporters of the insurance law kicked off a national campaign Thursday urging family members and friends to spread the word to their loved ones about the availability of coverage.

The hope is that familiar faces can do something President Barack Obama, thus far, has not achieved — getting millions of healthy, younger adults to enroll for coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

The concept borrows from basic political strategy — an individual is more likely to be convinced to make a decision by a trusted family member or friend, rather than a TV ad, a stranger at the door or a politician.

“When friends tell friends, people know the voice matters,” said Peter Lee, executive director of the state-run health exchange Covered California, which is spearheading the campaign.

The campaign will lean heavily on celebrity endorsements and Internet traffic to get the chatter going, including from Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine, who People magazine named the “sexiest man alive” of 2013.

The announcement comes as the latest marketing strategy as sign-ups have lagged, and after the disastrous launch of the federal government’s website, which was blamed for dampening enrollments.

The Health and Human Services Department reported Wednesday that 364,682 people had signed up for private coverage under the law as of Nov. 30. That is more than three times the October figure but still less than one-third of the 1.2 million that officials had projected would enroll nationwide by the end of November. The administration’s overall goal was to sign up 7 million people by next March 31, when open enrollment ends.

California, the nation’s most populous state with about 38 million residents, runs its own exchange and led the nation with 107,087 sign-ups.

People face a Dec. 23 deadline to sign up if they are to have coverage by New Year’s.