WASHINGTON — President Obama urged a group of young activists Wednesday not to give up on promoting his signature health-care law, as enrollment picked up on HealthCare.gov.
Roughly 29,000 Americans signed up for insurance on the federal exchange Sunday and Monday, according to an individual familiar with the numbers who spoke on condition of anonymity. That figure exceeds the number who enrolled online in all of October, almost 27,000.
Buoyed by the website’s improved performance, Obama and his aides have been touting the importance of signing up for plans before Dec. 23, the deadline for obtaining insurance scheduled to start Jan. 1.
Obama told the young people at the White House Youth Summit, which was designed to mobilize support for the health law, that he needed them “to spread the word about how the Affordable Care Act really works, what its benefits are, what its protections are and, most importantly, how people can sign up.”
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“Look, you know, I do remember what it’s like being 27 or 28, and aside from the occasional basketball injury, you know, most of the time I kind of felt like I had nothing to worry about,” the president said. “Of course that’s what most people think until they have something to worry about, but at that point, oftentimes it’s too late.”
Many young people remain reluctant to buy a health plan on the state and federal exchanges. A new poll by the Harvard Institute of Politics found that 29 percent of young, uninsured Americans say they are leaning toward enrolling, with 41 percent saying it’s a 50-50 proposition.
Young Invincibles Executive Director Aaron Smith, whose group is working to get young people insured, said the fact that the summit’s attendees included DJs and young entrepreneurs shows that the Obama administration is looking for messengers “who are not in the political arena, but … know how to communicate to young people.”
Smith said that while many young Americans remain undecided about whether they will sign up for insurance, some don’t know about the law’s central provisions, such as guaranteed coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions.
The renewed push for the law came as HealthCare.gov received an 80 percent increase in visitors, according to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services spokeswoman Julie Bataille.
She declined to release detailed recent enrollment figures, which under the agency’s definition include any individual who has successfully signed up for a plan.
Washington Post staff writer Amy Goldstein contributed to this report.