Faith groups see bright side in Obamacare numbers

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A network of faith-based organizers is hailing the latest Obamacare enrollment report as a positive barometer for the law, even if the data released Monday show too few young people have signed up so far.

The PICO National Network said enrollment should build over time, mirroring the pitch that Obama administration officials offered when they announced Monday that 2.2 million Americans have selected private plans on the health exchanges tied to the Affordable Care Act.

“The enrollment numbers released yesterday echo the story we’re seeing unfold in neighborhoods, congregations and states across the country — as systems are clarified and hardworking families learn about the benefits of health reform, more and more of them are beginning and finalizing the process of securing quality health insurance,” said Elianne Farhat, lead organizer for the PICO National Network.

Church groups are a key driver of outreach for the Obama administration and the 15 state-run health exchanges under Obamacare, educating congregations about their options and setting up enrollment centers in faith-based settings.

But overall enrollment numbers are not on pace to reach the administration’s stated goal of 7 million enrollees by the end of open enrollment on March 31. Plus, only a quarter of enrollees so far are aged 18 to 34, a relatively healthy demographic that is needed to keep premiums in check.

Experts say about 40 percent of enrollees should be from this age group.

Even so, pro-Obamacare organizers remain undeterred.

“During the first three months of open enrollment, PICO federations engaged more than 52,658 uninsured or likely uninsured people in our outreach and enrollment programs,” Ms. Farhat said. “Over the next three months, we look forward to growing our programs to bring the full benefits of health reform to families across the country.”

 

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