LeBron James endorses McDonald’s, Sprite, and Powerade. Is his product pitch to get young people to sign up for health insurance through the federal government’s exchanges then a kind of penance?
Barack Obama has enlisted the Miami Heat forward to sell ObamaCare. James cut a commercial promoting enrollment in health insurance plans through healthcare.gov. The spot will reportedly run on ESPN, ABC, TNT, and other networks broadcasting basketball games.
“Hi, I’m LeBron James,” the four-time MVP announces in the ad. “I know how important it is to take care of yourself, your friends, and your family. That’s why I wanted to tell you about the health insurance marketplace at healthcare.gov. You can go there to find an affordable health plan as part of the health care law. The deadline to enroll is March 31. So sign up now.”
With the March 31 deadline approaching, the administration has been in a frantic push to enroll Americans, particularly young, healthy Americans, in the government’s exchanges. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the Affordable Care Act needed seven million enrollees to keep the program solvent but earlier this week the administration announced that just 4.2 million people had enrolled, with numbers declining month-to-month. It’s unclear how many of the enlistees in the program have actually paid anything to the insurance companies providing coverage.
Along with the president’s appearance on Zach Galifianakis’s “Between Two Ferns” earlier this week, the LeBron James ad suggests the administration’s desperation in attracting young people to ObamaCare. Earlier this year, the Department of Health and Human Services reported that 18- to 34-year-olds represented just shy of a quarter of the sign-ups. With an older, sicker population disproportionately comprising the exchange’s insurance pool, many fear that the program will require a massive taxpayer bailout.
James follows NBA greats Alonzo Mourning and Magic Johnson in lending prestige to the president’s policy. Celebrity endorsers convincing their young fans to subsidize the health-care costs of older generations plays as a key part of the president’s plan to keep ObamaCare from running aground.
How is buying into that any better for twentysomethings than biting into a Big Mac?
“Any way I can help the president,” James told Bleacher Report earlier this week, “that’s pretty cool.”