April 1st, 2014
04:18 PM ET
6 months ago

LeBron, ‘Ferns’ key to enrollment surge, White House says

Washington (CNN) – The up-to-the-buzzer surge on the federal health care exchanges, which surprised even the law’s ardent backers at the White House, came down to election-style tactics and targeted outreach to young people, officials said on Tuesday.

The crush of sign-ups helped the administration top the coveted 7 million target, which seemed all but impossible late last year as technical problems plagued HealthCare.gov and political opponents amplified their cries for the law’s repeal.

Officials touting the successful enrollment period pointed to two attempts at reaching young Americans as particularly successful – taping the mock interview show “Between Two Ferns” with the comedian Zack Galifianakis, and using Miami Heat forward LeBron James in a 30-second public service announcement that’s airing during March Madness games.

Other athletes began expressing interest in helping with the push after James’ PSA was released. And celebrities – from Kerry Washington to Jared Leto – flooded Twitter with messages of support as the March 31 deadline approached.

Officials compared the push to a “get out the vote” campaign ahead of an election – using techniques that penetrate Americans’ lives, even if they’re not tuned into the political discussion. Putting administration officials on sports radio, hitting airwaves during the NCAA tournament, and appearing on comedy websites all contributed to the onslaught.

The administration marketed the exchanges to young, healthy Americans since their participation in the program is essential to keeping premiums low. The effort, officials said, exceeded their expectations in the final days of enrollment, when millions of people flocked to the website to enroll.

The White House has yet to say how many of the 7 million who signed up are considered young and healthy, though White House officials contend the breakdown contains enough adults aged 18-34 to keep costs reasonable.

Also in question: How many of those who signed up will actually pay their premium? Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told an Oklahoma TV station on Monday that insurers were reporting that 80% to 90% had paid.

Those outstanding questions are likely to provide fuel for the law’s opponents, who continue to call for its repeal in Congress. White House officials on Tuesday, however, said the success in reaching the 7 million figure would bolster Democrats’ case in the coming midterm elections. Now that millions of Americans have enrolled, the officials reasoned, repealing the law has become untenable.


Filed under: Obamacare
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Tampa Tim

    As a Magic fan, I humbly salute LeBron and the others who stood up for those who were in need of access to healthcare.

    April 1, 2014 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  2. ThinkAgain: Don't like Congress? Get rid of the repub/tea bag majority.

    "The administration marketed the exchanges to young, healthy Americans since their participation in the program is essential to keeping premiums low. The effort, officials said, exceeded their expectations in the final days of enrollment, when millions of people flocked to the website to enroll."

    Or as Unitedhealthcare so eloquently put it on their website FAQ:

    Q. I'm young and healthy. Why do I need health insurance?
    A. Despite your age and health, you never know when a serious injury or illness will strike. You're not invincible. And if you don't have insurance, who'll pay your bills? Do you have the money to pay $1,500 to fix a broken leg or $3,000 to stay in the hospital? Insurance gives you the peace of mind that, yes, most of your medical bills will be covered in case something happens.

    Q. If I get sick but don't have the money to pay, won't doctors and hospitals treat me?
    A. Yes, most doctors and hospitals will treat you, but they will aggressively pursue collection of your unpaid medical bills by turning your account over to a collection agency. Yes, some hospitals write off a certain amount of care each year, called "indigent care," but if you or your family fail to meet strict requirements, they'll come after you to pay. Somebody will pay - either you as a paying patient in the form of higher medical bills, or taxpayers.

    This from a free-market company; who are you going to listen to: Them or the gop/tea bag hacks whose #1 stated goal is to make President Obama fail?

    April 1, 2014 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  3. sonny chapman

    Still Millions of Sick,Poor Folks not getting Medicaid because Repub Govs. HATE Obama more than they Love their Citizens. Gov. Kaisaich of Ohio is exception. God can smile a little.

    April 1, 2014 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  4. just asking

    until they see the costs and stop paying. and where are the other 43 million people? when does the irs start going after them? this is a joke. nobody is enforcing anything, deadlines, requirrments to pay, you name it.

    April 1, 2014 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  5. Obamacare - Pick Your Lie

    1. If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep your healthcare plan, PERIOD
    2. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor, PERIOD
    3. If you like your hospital, you can keep your hospital, PERIOD
    4. You will save $2,500 a year on healthcare costs.
    5. Taxes on the middle class will not go up one dime.
    6. 7 million people 'enrolled' in Obamacare.

    April 1, 2014 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  6. Silence DoGood

    "The administration marketed the exchanges to young, healthy Americans since their participation in the program is essential to keeping premiums low."
    ------------–
    And the Koch Bros targeted that same group telling them NOT to sign up ("beer cozy campus campaign") specifically to sabotage the program. Thanks for nothing. It is working in spite of you.

    April 1, 2014 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  7. bcrunner

    Romneycare was advertised and pushed by baseball players, NFL players, actors, etc. When the White House approached the NFL this time, the Republicans threatened them and they backed off. I am not a fan of Lebron, but I will forever be greatful to him for doing what he did. My niece was diagnosed with a life threatening disease recently. The kind of pre-existing condition that probably no insurance company would even touch her. She was able to obtain healthcare back in December. She makes enough where she did not need a subsidy. We are always going to worry about her health, but at least we won't have to worry about how her family will handle the bills if and when they start coming.... Thank you President Obama!!

    April 1, 2014 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  8. Chris-E...al

    If i dont want The not so ACa i should be able to n0t want it and not be taxd or fined no brainer ?

    April 1, 2014 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  9. Silence DoGood

    Anti-ACA conservative conspiracy lies:
    – it was passed without due process
    – hackers will steal your life savings through the web page (Fox)
    – Obama sabotaged the web page deliberately
    – Death Panels (Palin)
    – it will fail by itself
    – it will fail after rumors and scares
    – it will fail after the millions spent and hacker hours and rumors and scares
    – you will go to jail if you don't sign up (Paul)
    – reported security flaws
    – Hannity witnesses
    – abortion must be covered

    April 1, 2014 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  10. Ashanabobo

    Thank you Mr. Obama for the health care system you've undoubtedly reformed. Taking the path that most feared to take and sticking with it. Others opposed it, but they've no solution for the 43% Americans that are uninsured.
    This is a hallmark of true leadership. Making unpopular decision and following it up, despite your position. Talking the talk and walking the walk.
    And thanks to all those that cared and showed support for the uninsured.

    April 1, 2014 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  11. rs

    Chris-E...al

    If i dont want The not so ACa i should be able to n0t want it and not be taxd or fined no brainer ?
    _______________________
    Grow-up. I don't want to support wars, or reward polluting industries with "incentives", yet I gladly pay my taxes for all the good things the government does, and that we as a people need.

    April 1, 2014 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  12. Tampa Tim

    Chris – In the rare possibility that your scooter loses a training wheel and you crash into a brick wall, who will pay for your emergency room visit and your lifetime medical care?

    April 1, 2014 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  13. Lizzie

    Silence DoGood, and this is not a lie, single payer insurance WILL be coming.

    April 1, 2014 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  14. Lizzie

    ThinkAgain: Don't like Congress? Get rid of the repub/tea bag majority
    United Healthcare also dropped 1100 doctors from their list.
    I like your first answer, but no insurance pays 100% you will also have to pay a co-payment, let's see if ALL those who signed up for Obamacare can afford it, and just to make it clear Hospital HAVE been turning unpaid bills over to collection agency.

    April 1, 2014 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  15. SnehDavis

    "Also in question: How many of those who signed up will actually pay their premium? Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told an Oklahoma TV station on Monday that insurers were reporting that 80% to 90% had paid."
    How one gets from the above to :

    "Those outstanding questions are likely to provide fuel for the law’s opponents, who continue to call for its repeal in Congress."

    That's poor journalism at its worst!

    April 1, 2014 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  16. Rick McDaniel

    Nonsense. There was no surge. That's a pack of lies. They simply claim signups, that don't exist.

    April 1, 2014 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  17. robert

    Are you kidding me? People didn't wait until the last minute to sign up for Obamacare because they actually wanted this garbage; they signed up because our government THREATENED them with penalties if they didn't sign up. Wake the f-up people. Your government is now mandating what insurance policies you must have and dictating your options of doctors through Obamacare. People have lost private plans and doctors that they liked because of Obamacare. When the employer mandate kicks in, people will also lose jobs or have their hours reduced. In many cases, Obamacare policies are more expensive than the private policies that people like and lost because of Obamacare. If you don't comply, you will pay the consequences; the IRS will make sure of it.

    The great dictator has stated that the discussion for repeal is over and that we are stuck with the Law of the Land.
    I hope the Dems have their Obama-helmets on because they are going to get trampled in November.

    April 1, 2014 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  18. God MAY NOT be a Liberal, but He IS a Democrat

    If Republicans put some constructive energy into improving the ACA instead of trying to play to racist-fears about the incompetent, detatched, unqualified, golf-playing arrogant, allof, President FORCING a Soviet/communist style "one-size-fits-all" healthcare plan down our throats, the country would be a lot better off. They thought calling it "ObamaCare" would constantly stoke the base that hates any actions of power & authority by the black man in the oval office. Well, they were wrong and will become even more wrong as time goes on and MORE Americans come to appreciate what Mr. Obama`s team has done for them. GOP`ers moderate your hate and make a good faith effort to improve the ACA . . . for example, let`s see some of those free market based principles put to use to lower costs, cut waiting times, streamline delivery, etc. The GOP DOES believe in all that stuff, right?

    April 1, 2014 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  19. ThinkAgain - Don't like Congress? Get rid of the repub/tea bag majority.

    @just asking: "...when does the irs start going after them?"

    It doesn't – and you'd know that if you got your info from other than fox, hannity and all the other RWNJs out there. If you don't pay, the fine is put on the books and the only way the IRS can collect is by withholding the amount from any refund you may qualify for. No liens, no garnishment, etc.

    April 1, 2014 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  20. countingdown

    All democrats should be begging the adminstration to release the actual numbers of who paid, because if the numbers are as bad as believed 2014/16 will be like Noah's flood washing over them. If the numbers are as presented, then the democrats don't have anything to worry about. All the lies to this point from this administration are bad enough, but an in your face lie won't go well with informed voters.

    April 1, 2014 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  21. robert

    ThinkAgain: Don't like Congress? Get rid of the repub/tea bag majority.

    Q. I'm young and healthy. Why do I need health insurance?
    A. Despite your age and health, you never know when a serious injury or illness will strike. You're not invincible. And if you don't have insurance, who'll pay your bills? Do you have the money to pay $1,500 to fix a broken leg or $3,000 to stay in the hospital? Insurance gives you the peace of mind that, yes, most of your medical bills will be covered in case something happens.
    -----------------------------------------------------
    $4,500 for a broken arm? To pay that amount out-of-pocket plus the penalty is still cheaper than paying the deductibles and the insurance premium under Obamacare. You would actually SAVE money by NOT buying insurance.

    April 1, 2014 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  22. J.V.Hodgson

    So, now we have hit the 7million. Republican next step ooops guess what?
    Obama lies again.
    Oh it needs X% young newcomers to make it work Please what about those now getting Medicaid coverage ( at least in Blue states) also those states that set up their own exchanges and recruited a further Xm. Time for more red states to sign up for the Medicaid expansion.
    Dems need to attack on PPACA NEVER refer to it as Obamacare. Emphasise the objectives:-
    Patient protection for all.
    Making health care affordable.
    Castigate the myth that only PPACA increased premiums. The history prior to PPACA were large increases in premiums well above inflation, that would still have applied.
    Finally, the Dems need to look at the PPACA and suggest legislation for improvement and table it before the 2014 mid term election process gets into full swing.
    They should do it as a two part process here's our ideas for improvement... yours please "IMPROVEMENT" not repeal or undermine on month then put a bill thru the Senate.
    PS go for the Koch bros ad lies big time.
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    April 1, 2014 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  23. Mike Texoma

    If I were a Republican I would take another look at my hole card.

    April 1, 2014 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  24. Liz the First

    It boggles the mind that the party that's always touting 'personal responsibility' is so dead set against a law that asks people to TAKE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY for their health care. responsible adults have insurance, period. the state CAN mandate you buy something. ever heard of CAR INSURANCE??? the ACA is a good thing for this country and shame on the Goons On Parade for putting out so much misinformation about it. it's saving lives and will save many more. the main thing the 'right' hates about Obamacare is the Obama part. amazing how so many self-professed godly people are so filled with hate. did Jesus teach them that? somehow i doubt it.

    April 1, 2014 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  25. Wilson

    7.1 million enrolled!!! Ha!Ha! April Fools!!!

    Seriously, unalbe to accurately give the numbers since October and all of a sudden, accuracy to the decimal point on the last day???? Riiiiiiigggghhhht.

    April 2, 2014 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
1 2