November 12, 2014 / 5:00 PM / 5 years ago

Obamacare enrollment group has less money, bigger outreach goal

Fifty-four-years-old Natalia Pollack (L), uninsured since 1999, is assisted to sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, by Carlos Tapia, a certified application councilor at a Single Stop USA site at West Side Campaign Against Hunger in New York City March 31, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Segar

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Enroll America, the U.S. government’s private-sector flagship for reaching Americans who lack health insurance, has raised less money than last year to promote enrollment in Obamacare health plans but still expects to reach more consumers.

The group, closely aligned with the White House and backed by healthcare companies and nonprofit groups, said on Wednesday it has collected $20 million from donors this year, down from $27 million a year ago.

The announcement came just ahead of Saturday’s start to the Affordable Care Act’s new three-month open enrollment period, when eligible consumers can enroll in federally subsidized private insurance through online marketplaces in all 50 states.

Analysts and other experts say the enrollment effort should begin more smoothly than last year’s botched rollout. But it faces tangible challenges signing up millions of people over a shorter time period, while Republicans in Congress renew their call for the law’s repeal. The administration dramatically cut 2015 enrollment expectations this week to 9.1 million people, from 13 million.

Enroll America officials say the larger pot of money last year included donations to help with start-up costs and said it expects to reach 1.4 million consumers in person or by phone in 11 states.

The group reached about 927,000 people through those avenues last time and expects to surpass the 5 million total that it claims to have reached for 2014 coverage through additional routes including email, social media and partner organizations.

“We have the resources to get it done,” Enroll America President Anne Filipic told reporters.

Filipic pointed to two new high-tech products including an online “Get Covered Connector” tool to help interested consumers talk to specialists who can help them enroll in coverage, and a special database for locating uninsured people.

The group, which boasts more than 4,600 partner organizations, said the two products have been adopted by allied outreach groups in an additional 11 states, bringing the effort’s total marketing reach to 22 states.

Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by David Gregorio

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