CoveredCalifornia would like young people to drop it like it’s hot. Wait, wha…?

posted at 6:01 pm on December 12, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

ObamaCare officials and advocates have always blithely claimed that the evident lack of young people signing up for health insurance through the exchanges at the program’s outset would be no immediate cause for panic, despite the absolute necessity of making sure that young people comprise a healthy portion of ObamaCare’s demographic mix — the better to the help pay for the costs of older, sicker participants with more expensive healthcare needs. Young people are procrastinators, after all, ObamaCare’s supporters insist, and they’ll probably wait until the last minute to sign up for new-and-improved, practically free ObamaCare plans — but they seem to be hoping that just the right PR approach will help to make damn sure that that nonchalant prediction actually comes to fruition.

The Obama administration has been trying for months now to get celebrities, actors, comedians, and athletes more involved in their outreach to young people, and a bunch of state exchanges led by Covered California in concert with healthcare advocacy group Enroll America are re-upping that approach with an extended social media campaign: “Tell a friend — get covered!” Via the LA Times:

Thursday’s launch of the “Tell a friend — Get covered” campaign marks a new phase of the effort that is being led by Covered California, the state’s thriving Obamacare exchange which enrolled more than 100,000 people through November (accounting for nearly a third of signups nationwide).

The new campaign, with its daily missives from celebrities, aims to reach 100 million people by encouraging friends to speak to friends about the benefits of health insurance. The message bearers will include actors Tatyana Ali of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” Wilmer Valderrama of “That ’70s Show” and Fran Drescher of “The Nanny.” On Thursday, the campaign released a video featuring Obama impersonator Iman Crosson (who performs as “Alphacat”) rapping about the new law.

“One of the key reasons we’re doing this campaign is that those under 30 live and breathe social media — they live Twitter, they live Facebook,” said Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California. Research has shown strong demand for health insurance within that age group, he noted: “Young people are not young and invincible, rather they’re the young convincibles. Again and again, if you look at the surveys, if you put before young people what insurance costs them, what they get — they want to buy.”

And the aforementioned video: “Drop it like it’s hot.” Hawt? Hot.

I must say, I find the usage of “drop it like it’s hot” to be a bit of an eyebrow-raiser. I know it’s just supposed to be an earwormy spoof, but the possibilities for adverse interpretation here are endless. “Drop your entire budget on expensive premiums designed to pay for the program’s redistributive nature, like it’s hot.” “Get dropped from your insurance plan, like it’s hot, because it didn’t include all of the extra ‘benefits’ we decided you needed and wasn’t expensive enough.” And so forth.

I suppose the cherry on top of this celeb-tastic PR sundae is supposed to be that the “Sexiest Man Alive” (…certainly not in the humble opinion of this twentysomething, I can assure you) is going to be in on campaign.

Pop singer Adam Levine, who won the designation from People magazine last month, is among the celebrities who’ll be promoting enrollment in online health insurance exchanges as part of a social media campaign kicking off tomorrow.

With enrollment totals behind administration projections after the botched start-up of the federal exchange, 17 state exchanges joined by an advocacy group are drawing on Obama administration allies in entertainment and sports to promote sign-ups, using social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

The effort is evidently really banking on young people being more social-media sheep than rationally-self interested individuals. We’ll see how that works out for them.


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