The open enrollment period through which uninsured Americans can purchase private health insurance for 2014 through healthcare.gov, the federal marketplace established through the Affordable Care Act closes on March 31. More than 4.2 million people have enrolled in what's often colloquially referred to as "Obamacare," a number that could increase to 6 million by the deadline date; while President Barack Obama said Friday that he's confident the current subscriber base is large enough to ensure that the "program will be stable," he's continuing his recent push to promote the marketplace to reach younger consumers and "break through" to the kind of audience that's less likely to watch an in-depth Sunday morning political talk-show interview on health care policy than, say, watch an episode of "Between Two Ferns."
In his latest effort to increase the marketplace's visibility and drive young or uninsured Americans to the health care website, Obama reached out to four-time NBA Most Valuable Player LeBron James for a helping hand, according to Ethan Skolnick of Bleacher Report:
No current athlete has more clout with that demographic than James, as evidenced by his ability to sell everything from basketball shoes to smartphones.
So Obama recently contacted the Miami Heat forward and requested his assistance, offering a number of different ways James could contribute.
"Any way I can help the president, that's pretty cool," James said Wednesday night.
On Thursday, we learned which of the "number of different ways" James wound up pitching in:
In the 30-second commercial, which will be aired widely during NBA telecasts throughout the balance of the month of March, James tells viewers that he knows "how important it is to take care of yourself, your friends and your family," and urges those without insurance to enroll before the March 31 deadline, "because you never know when you might take a hit." (It's kind of amazing that they didn't cut in a shot of LeBron getting whacked in the face by Serge Ibaka. Maybe it was a video-rights issue.)
James isn't the only NBA personality the Obama administration has enlisted in its publicity blitz. Former Heat star Alonzo Mourning and Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson both filmed similar spots that have been running for the past couple of months. Obama also sat down with Hall of Famer and TNT analyst Charles Barkley to discuss a number of issues, including the health insurance push, in an interview that aired during All-Star Weekend in February.
James is, however, the first current player enlisted by the administration to help out. (One suspects Spencer Hawes isn't likely to get such a call any time soon.)
"It's almost like car insurance," James told Skolnick. (Thankfully, he didn't say, "But for your health.") "You want to put yourself in a position where — you hope you never get into an accident — but if you do, you want to be secure. And I think a lot of young adults and African-Americans as well are afraid because they are not even educated about it. And hopefully my voice, and hopefully the other people who've done it, can get them more knowledgeable about it."
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- Barack Obama