The Obamacare sales team is out with a public service announcement featuring former basketball great Earvin “Magic” Johnson, hoping to reach a younger demographic.
“Affordable health care is important to me because everybody deserves to have good health care,” says Johnson in the 140-second ad featured at the Twitter hashtag #GetCovered. “And when you think about it, it saved my life.”
Johnson discusses his 1991 HIV diagnosis. The NBA legend shocked the world then by announcing that he’d contracted the disease after a sexual relationship with a woman. The biographer of another Los Angeles Lakers star, Jerry West, wrote of Johnson’s sexual escapades, saying that Magic had sex with between 300 and 500 women per year before his diagnosis, often after games.
But Johnson looks as healthy as ever today, 22 years after his positive diagnosis. In the Obamacare ad he attributes this to the fact that he had a good insurance plan for his survival. The All-Star has served as an HIV/AIDS advocate and has also been a big supporter of President Barack Obama.
“You never know when you’re gonna need it,” Johnson says of health insurance.
Johnson also makes an appeal to athletes: “Young people they think they’re Superman. Like nothing’s ever going to happen to them.”
“What athletes don’t understand: you’re going to get hurt. I don’t care who you are.”
The Johnson ad comes at a time when supporters worry that Obamacare is failing to attract enough younger male enrollees. The demographic is key to the success of the plan as younger men consume health care at lower rates than females and older people. An older enrollment skew would throw off financial assumptions made when Obamacare was patched together. And some worry that this could lead to higher insurance prices across the board in what is being called an “adverse selection death spiral.”
So far, 25 percent of non-elderly adults younger than the age of 35 have signed up for an exchanged-based insurance plan, according to Avik Roy of Forbes. But that group represents 47 percent of the population.
This latest ad makes a different appeal than another one promoted by the Obama team. Last month, Organizing for Action, the grassroots campaign that was created explicitly to support the president’s agenda, released the now-infamous “Pajama Boy” ad.
Widely mocked — especially on Twitter — that ad featured a young-looking man, later found to be a 24-year-old Organizing for Action volunteer, wearing pajamas while sipping from a cup of hot chocolate.
Other ad campaigns have aimed for the younger male demographic. Promoting their state-based program, Colorado published an ad beseeching young men to purchase “Brosurance.” One ad from that campaign featured several college-aged men doing keg stands.
Open enrollment for coverage under Obamacare ends March 31.
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