District of Columbia officials are recruiting young residents this weekend to enroll in ObamaCare by showing up where they “party by night and shop by day.”
Officials on Saturday visited two Footlocker stores where Nike’s exclusive Air Jordan 12 “Taxi” sneakers were going on sale. And they are scheduled to visit two Denny’s restaurants from 2 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
“My motto is ‘Get them health care while you get them Jordans,” DC Health Links representative Vanessa Brooks told Fox News outside a Footlocker in the city’s downtown.
“Get some health care to go along with them taxis, OK?” Brooks told those at the store. “You got to have it. And you need it.”
The Obama administration and other supporters of the Affordable Care Act have worked hard since enrollment started in October to connect with young people, knowing their participation will help cover the cost of the elderly and others who need more medical care.
However, problems with the federal ObamaCare website and the 14 state-run sites appear to have made the tech-savvy generation wary of the entire program, combined with members’ general feeling they won’t get sick or injured, which has prompted Brooks and other D.C. Health Link officials to call them “young invincibles.”
Brooks and other so-called “assisters” plan to make contact this weekend with hundreds of young D.C. residents and encourage them to make appointments to enroll in insurance plans.
In California, the state with the largest uninsured population, most of those who have applied have been older people with health problems. In Kentucky, nearly three of four enrollees last month were over 35. In Washington state, about 23 percent of enrollees have been 18 to 34.
And in Ohio, groups helping with enrollment described many of those coming to them as older residents who lost their jobs and health coverage during the recession.
At the Denny's restaurants, the assisters will set up shop to provide information, answer questions and enroll residents.
Eligible residents have until March 31, 2014, to buy an insurance policy through the exchanges. Those who enroll before December 23 will be covered starting January 1, 2014.
On Wednesday, the Department of Health and Human Services said signups increased in November after an abysmal October in which the federal site and some state-run sites crashed as the result of too much volume.
Enrollment statistics from the agency this week showed 364,682 people have signed up for private coverage as of Nov. 30 under the federal health law. Though that's more than three times the October total, it's less than one-third of the 1.2 million people that officials had originally projected would enroll nationwide by the end of November.
Crunch time is now for Obama's health care law, as consumers face the December enrollment deadline if they want to have coverage by next year.
Yet HealthCare.gov, the revamped federal website serving 36 states, continues to have issues. Just Tuesday there was an extended maintenance outage. And some states running their own web sites are also having problems.
That's created stress and uncertainty not only for the uninsured but also for consumers seeking to avoid an interruption in coverage in January. Those trying to preserve coverage include some or many of the more than 4 million people whose individual plans were canceled because they didn't measure up under the law, as well as hundreds of thousands in federal and state programs for people with serious health problems, from cancer to heart disease to AIDS.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told the House Energy and Commerce on Wednesday that the signup trend is turning positive.
"I don't think there is any question that the flawed launch of the website put a damper on people's enthusiasm," she said. "Having said that, we are seeing very, very positive trends. We are seeing lots of people re-engage."
Sebelius also said another 1.9 million people have made it through the enrollment process, but have not yet picked a plan. Consumers must pay their premiums by Dec. 31 for coverage to take effect at the beginning of the year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.