Celebrity Pitching for Obamacare Falls Flat

Monday, 16 Dec 2013 09:30 AM

By James Hirsen

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As the saying goes, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity.
 
Recent actions by the folks behind Obamacare seem to fit the insanity mold to a T.
 
Last spring the White House managed to persuade a host of celebrities to go out and inject some stardust into an otherwise anemic Obamacare website. Onboard at the time for the signup effort were Lady Gaga, Amy Poehler, Nina Dobrev, Rosario Dawson, Sarah Silverman, Olivia Wilde, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson, Pearl Jam, Lance Bass, John Legend, Alyssa Milano, and Kerry Washington.
 
Will Farrell’s Funny or Die entertainment firm was tapped to produce viral videos, which were intended to convince 18-to-34-year-olds to purchase insurance from the state exchanges. Stars posed for Twitter and Instagram photos, with the hashtag #getcovered.
Celebrities had to be enlisted to target millennials because without that generation’s participation the Obamacare mechanism would simply collapse.
 
What happened in the end was that the celebrity promotional effort flat out failed to work, and many of the stars involved ended up with egg on their faces as the October 1 startup date arrived. The website was miserably ineffective, and it became a laughingstock both in and outside the corridors of Hollywood.
 
Then more negative fallout occurred. Millions of insurance cancellation letters showed up at U.S. doorsteps, some even going to contract workers, freelancers, and seasonal employees in Hollywood.
 
Obamacare officials have responded with more celebrity carnival barking. This time the program is being referred to as the “Tell a friend, get covered” campaign.
 
The new effort includes daily messages from current pop figures and is designed to encourage friends to speak to fellow buds about the benefits of health insurance.
 
The administration has brought in People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive, singer Adam Levine, to kick off the new public relations initiative via the social media.
 
“We don’t think that, by seeing a tweet, suddenly millions of people will go get coverage,” Anne Filipic, president of Enroll America, told Bloomberg News. “Adam Levine’s tweet helps us begin, and then we can have a substantive conversation about what’s available.”
 
Rounding out the celebrity sales staff is Tatyana Ali of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” Kal Penn of “Harold and Kumar,” Wilmer Valderrama of “That '70s Show” and Fran Drescher of “The Nanny.”
 
The latest attempt to convince young people to “opt in” includes a Snoop Dog parody video that features a rapping President Obama impersonator (Iman Crosson, who performs as “Alphacat”).
 
On January 16, 2014, an 8-hour live stream will feature celebrities telling stories, giving tips, and relating information on health insurance coverage.
 
According to HHS, though, as of Nov. 30 a total of only about 365,000 people have enrolled for coverage through the federal portal or through one of the state insurance exchanges.
 
As of the end of October, the state exchanges of California, Kentucky, and Washington had less than 25 percent of their enrollees under 35.
 
Adding to all of this are the findings of a recent poll by Harvard’s Institute of Politics, which indicate that millennials have soured on the idea of the Affordable Care Act being beneficial for them. According to the poll, less than one-third of uninsured 18 to 29-year-olds are likely to enroll in Obamacare.
 
Apparently, the same people who delivered a lousy website, tampered with the doctor-patient relationship, and caused cancellation letters to be sent out to millions are now placing their hopes in a modified hashtag, rap video, and the “Sexiest Man Alive.”
 
James Hirsen, J.D., M.A., in media psychology, is a New York Times best-selling author, media analyst, and law professor. Visit Newsmax TV Hollywood. Read more reports from James Hirsen — Click Here Now.
 
 

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