March 17 2014

March Madness Hits ObamaCare

Patrice J. Lee

The White House is capitalizing on college basketball’s March Madness tournament to promote its failing ObamaCare plan. This new play is part of the Administration’s last-minute blitz to reach its enrollment target.

March 31 is the deadline for open enrollment when Americans must have healthcare coverage or face a penalty from the government thanks to the ObamaCare individual mandate. So far signups for ObamaCare have fallen far short of the goal line of six million people (scaled back from the original seven-million target). 4.2 million Americans have signed up and of those only 25 percent are young people between 18 and 34 years old. This doesn’t bode well for the stability of this healthcare insurance system that relies on young, healthy people to pay the costs of older, sicker Americans.

The Administration has latched onto every gimmick it could to get young people to sign up for ObamaCare. It enlisted comedians, actors, and artists to spend some of their star power in convincing young people to sign up. It wasted tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to purchase expensive airtime during the Super Bowl and Olympics. It produced bro-surance and ho-surance ads that exploit our generation and paint us in the most negatively light. And, when those failed, they turned to ads with kittens and puppies as well as Pajama Boy. ObamaCare navigators and volunteers even stalked young people at sneaker stores and festivals and turned moms into drill sergeants nagging their “adult children” to sign up.

Now, the White House is courting basketball fans with online videos featuring athletes and coaches, ads featuring well-known players such as Miami Heat star LeBron James, and a bracket of reasons to sign up for ObamaCare. Even HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will get in on the game by tweeting about the NCAA basketball tournament, especially her home-state Kansas Jayhawks.

Politico reports:

The White House plans to release its own bracket Monday as part of the effort, “16 Sweetest Reasons to Get Covered,” timed with the annual release of President Barack Obama’s bracket this week, and the president and high-ranking administration officials will conduct interviews on a variety of outlets coordinated with the push, which will also include social media.

Also Monday, a video featuring “two of the most-recognized coaches in college basketball,” according to the official, will help launch the bracket. Other athletes and coaches will be involved in PSAs and an ad starring Miami Heat star LeBron James will air across several sports channels and ABC.

A number of high-profile athletes have supported the president’s health care initiative, including greats like Magic Johnson, Alonzo Mourning and James.

The White House is looking to urge Americans to sign up for health care before the March 31 deadline for open enrollment.

This is probably the smartest idea that the Administration has come up with to promote ObamaCare. So far, the Administration’s PR strategy has been frenetic, unorganized and questionable. This seems to actually thoughtful and strategic. Will it work? It’s doubtful.

LeBron James may have sway over the sneaker choices of Millennials but not their healthcare choices. Can he convince them that ObamaCare will not be a bad deal for them? No. ObamaCare is expensive, raising premiums young people pay by 169% on average. There are also privacy issues attached to handing over your private data to the government.

Last week, the President claimed ObamaCare costs less than a cell phone bill and as we reported, that was wrong.

There is a reason that a quarter of young people –instead of 40 percent- have taken the plunge to purchase ObamaCare. The sticker shock is too much for a generation that faces a 16 percent effective unemployment rate and is saddled with student loan debt.

Until the Administration addresses the cost issues with ObamaCare, young people will continue to opt out.

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