President Obama’s latest gimmick to try to convince the young, restless and invincible to buy government mandated health insurance before the March 31 deadline is not going to score him a slam dunk. In conjunction with the start of the NCAA college basketball tournament frenzy and Obama’s own picks, the administration has put together a huge March Madness campaign with an Obamacare themed bracket. The bracket details 16 of the “sweetest” reasons the young should fork over their cash and “get covered.” It is more likely that during March Madness any extra cash these twenty-somethings have in their pockets will be spent on beer and game snacks rather than Obamacare premiums.
The basketball themed campaign to persuade the young to “get covered” will be of the “in your face” variety in that it will be promoted on all media fronts. The younger demographic will find it hard to escape the Obamacare barrage from radio, television, social media and internet sources as the administration runs its own numbers game hoping that if enough health care mantra is slung, some of it will stick. Basketball fans of all ages will find the NCAA social media feeds adulterated with Obamacare enrollment promotions using March Madness as the tease and this approach is likely to irritate more people than inspire the targeted demographic to sign up.
Some of the bigger names in basketball will be joining in the campaign fray to slam dunk Obamacare including Alonzo Mourning, Magic Johnson and LeBron James who uses scare tactics to warn the young that they cannot predict when they “might be hit.” The administration has also tapped Kansas Jayhawks fan Health and Human Services Secretary (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius to promote the March Madness health care bracket. The idea that Sebelius holds any sway with young basketball enthusiasts is laughable. It is likely she is known much more for her role in the epic failure of the Obama administration to build the government’s Health Care website than she is for her March Madness picks.
The Obama administration has less than two weeks before the March 31 deadline after which individuals without health insurance will be penalized. Thus far, only approximately 4.2 million of the initial target of 7 million people have signed up and less than 25 percent of these enrollees fall into the younger demographic. There is much speculation as to whether Obama will issue yet another delay in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and push the individual mandate until after the midterm elections in November. Given that the administration recently added another exemption to the already exemption heavy law that allows penalty exclusions for those who claim to have had any hardship in obtaining health insurance, the individual mandate may already have been neutered, at least until 2016.
Obama’s March Madness “Sweet 16” bracket is as flawed as his previous Obamacare campaigns like the internet cartoon “Julia” that promoted the message that women cannot survive without government support and the pajama boy advertisements that generated more mockery than they did enrollees during the 2013 holiday season. These campaigns insult the intelligence of healthy and mostly financially challenged 18-26 year olds who know they are being tapped to pay for the subsidies of older, less healthy enrollees.
Running plays on the media savvy young will backfire because such shamelessly manipulative tactics are likely to increase resistance rather than, as the Obama administration puts it, force young people to “make healthy decisions.” People in this targeted demographic, including those in their mid-thirties who do not have children are well aware that Obamacare excludes pre-existing conditions and the penalty for not having healthcare coverage is minimal if non-existent at this point. No sports analogy or targeted manipulation using social media is going to be a slam dunk win for the Obama administration and his March Madness Obamacare bracket campaign is just another waste of taxpayer dollars.
Editorial By Alana Marie Burke
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