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Volunteers Plaster King County with Obamacare Sales Pitch

Gabriel Spitzer

On the same day House Republicans voted to defund the Affordable Care Act, King County is making a big push to implement it. Volunteers went door-to-door and business-to-business across the county Friday.

Public health officials are trying to get uninsured King County residents to buy insurance on the state’s new exchange. Many of them have never had coverage before.

Public Health - Seattle and King County’s Penny Lara tells her outreach volunteers that means people are going to have a lot of questions.

“There will be many words that people have not heard before, like premiums, deductibles, co-pays. So that is a big barrier, a big challenge for us,” says Lara.

Door to door

About 20 volunteers have gathered at a mixed-income housing project in White Center, where as many as one in three people don’t have insurance now.

Teams of four of five comb the business district on 17th Avenue, distributing fliers. White Center resident Stu Jennings hits up the manager at Malo’s Auto Body, who quickly agrees to scotch tape a flier to his front door. The flier introduces HelathPlanFinderand provides a toll-free number for the state’s help line.

In-person assisters

The public health department will follow up by in this neighborhood with trained “in-person assisters” as soon as the exchange opens October 1st – one each at the library, clinic and food bank. They plan to deploy as many as 600 of these helping hands around the county to walk people through finding a plan and getting subsidies if they qualify.

Local agencies like the county health department are taking the lead on one-on-one outreach. Also this week the state exchange began running commercials during sporting events and TV shows ranging from Dr. Phil to Breaking Bad. They’re trying to reach Washington’s one million uninsured, a fifth of whom live in King County.

Gabriel Spitzer is a former KNKX reporter, producer and host who covered science and health and worked on the show Sound Effect.