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Obamacare blitz: Can US persuade young 'invincibles' to buy health coverage?

Success of the Affordable Care Act could hang on whether about 2 million young and healthy Americans will buy coverage starting Oct. 1, thereby ensuring the viability of the insurance pools. It's a steep climb, made harder by Obamacare foes working to talk them out of it.

Megan Hall (c.), an outreach team leader, shared information about HealthSource RI, the state’s health-care exchange, in North Providence, R.I., Aug. 16.

Alfredo Sosa/Staff

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In Oregon, folk singers croon about the state's health insurance exchange in artsy television ads. Connecticut is passing out "Get covered" sunscreen at the beach, and a Colorado poster features a young man with a "winner" medal, fists pumped, and the slogan "When insurance companies compete, the only winner is you."

The federal government and states in support of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare, are banking on finding a winning strategy to ensure enough young Americans sign up for the state insurance exchanges, set to open Oct. 1, to keep rates low as promised.

But people like Kay Lamberti, age 29, a former nursing assistant now working a temp job in Providence, R.I., aren't cheering for the health exchanges just yet. Ms. Lamberti has gone for five years without health insurance and doesn't plan on getting it until she gets a higher paying job.

"It's not in the budget," says Lamberti. "I'm pretty healthy at the moment and I know things could happen, having had worked in the healthcare field, but I can't afford it based on that chance."

Lamberti is representative of the newest challenge facing Obamacare, after it survived legal challenges from half the states and 40 repeal attempts by House Republicans: Analysts now are warning that cash-strapped uninsured Americans ages 18 to 34 may stay away from the new insurance markets, potentially driving premiums up instead of down.


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