The Washington Times - September 12, 2013, 12:05PM

The District of Columbia said Thursday it is teaming up with the city’s professional soccer team, D.C. United, to promote an insurance exchange tied to President Obama’s health care law.

The exchange, known as D.C. Health Link, will open Oct. 1 and allow consumers to shop for health coverage that takes effect Jan. 1 — often with the help of income-based subsidies.

SEE RELATED: Top unions push for Obamacare ‘fix’

City officials said they reached out to D.C. United because its fan base largely falls within the “young invincible” group that is vital to helping the Affordable Care Act succeed.

Research shows about two-thirds of the team’s fans are between the ages of 18 and 44, 26 percent are Hispanic and 22 percent are black, “making this an important avenue to reach uninsured/underinsured populations.”

The Obama administration hopes to attract young, healthy people to the state exchanges so premiums do not rise when sicker consumers with pre-existing conditions enter the individual market, since they can no longer be denied coverage.

The administration tried to get the NFL to promote the law, but was blocked when Republican lawmakers urged the league not to participate.

However, officials in areas that have embraced the reforms have successfully partnered with individual teams.

The D.C. exchange will sponsor D.C. United’s Oct. 4 match against the Chicago Fire with on-field messages, promote the exchange at tailgating parties throughout October and use United players in promotional materials.

“This partnership will help us inform a key group of District residents that can be hard to reach about new opportunities to obtain health insurance,” said Diane C. Lewis, chair of the DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority Executive Board. “Many young people will have access to financial help through D.C. Health Link that will finally bring health insurance within their reach.”