As I pointed out last week, Obamacare enrollment for next year is down so far with just one week left for those enrolling on the federal exchange. Today, President Obama made a pitch with a video posted on Twitter for people to sign up while there is still time. The 90-second ad has already been viewed more than a million times in just a couple of hours.
“Well, it is that time of year again,” Obama says in the clip, which features some kind of faux-steel drum background music. He then promises he won’t be using any gimmicks to make his pitch. “Frankly, I think you’ve proven that you don’t need to see me making jump shots or sitting between a couple of forest plants in order to know it’s important to have health insurance,” he adds.
“This year I’m giving it to you straight. Sign up for health insurance at Healthcare.gov before the deadline on December 15th.”
The clip ends with a pair of sunglasses superimposed over his face (the “Deal with it” meme). At the same time, the background behind him shifts from a bedroom to a mountain scene featuring a rainbow.
“You’ve got a filter on me, don’t you?” Obama says.
I guess the message is that Obama will still do anything to get young people to sign up for Obamacare. Will it work? Maybe for some but it’s going to take a significant late surge to make up the deficit of more than 400,000 people who haven’t signed up yet compared to the same time last year.
Things aren’t actually quite as dire as they appear from those numbers because enrollment is running ahead in some states that don’t use the federal exchange. Nevertheless, the expectation (from Charles Gaba of ACA Signups) is that this year’s enrollment will be down as much as 6 percent.
Something similar happened last year. There was a big surge of enrollment in the final week, some of which may have been auto-enrollment, and the federal exchange final tally came in about 400,000 lower than the previous year. That decline was actually considered better than many people expected given the lack of federal support under Trump. We could see roughly the same thing this year, i.e. a modest decline which doesn’t seem so bad in light of the fact that the individual mandate is no longer in place. That’s how I suspect many in the media will spin it.
But there’s a really simple explanation for why Obamacare seems to have a floor of support which won’t drop away. Most of the people signing up are getting the government to buy most or all of their insurance. That’s the secret sauce which makes this so appealing. The number of people signing up to pay full price for this has been way behind projections and it seems clear it always will be.
Here’s Obama making one more pitch for his namesake policy:
No jump shots. No ferns. No memes. Not this time. I’m going to give it to you straight: If you need health insurance for 2019, the deadline to get covered is December 15. Go to https://t.co/ob1Ynoesod today and pass this on — you just might save a life. pic.twitter.com/8mHMsXGY0g
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) December 10, 2018