Magic Johnson wants you to buy health insurance. The former-NBA player appears in a commercial, explaining how people can use Healthcare.gov to compare plans and purchase coverage. Johnson isn’t the only basketball star who has signed on to promote health insurance. Alonzo Mourning has an advertisement as well. Mourning describes his own person health issues, a serious kidney disease discovered during a routine check-up. He wants others be be able to benefit as he did from health coverage.
According to data provided by Health and Human Services, between October 1 and December 28, nearly 2.2 million people signed up for insurance using the exchanges. Approximately one-quarter are between the ages of 18 and 34. Total enrollment, and that by young adults, are below expectations. People who want to avoid the penalty imposed by Obamacare have until March 31 to sign up for insurance.
The ads featuring Johnson and Mourning were released on Wednesday. Bloomberg reports each will air on ABC, ESPN, TNT, and NBAtv. The ads were paid for by the federal government, and form part of the Administration’s push to increase enrollment ahead of the March 31 deadline.
Supporters of Obamacare are pushing enrollment as well. On Thursday, “Tell a Friend– Get Covered” broadcast a six-hour, live event on YouTube. The event featured celebrities, engaging in skits, and explaining the law. Other advertisements include another round of federally funded commercials that will air during the Sochi Olympics. The ad blitz — and promotions by non-governmental groups — targets young people especially.
Young people are thought of as a necessary component for the law’s success. However, at least one health industry expert believes total enrollment, and the enrollment of healthy people, should be the focus. “There’s a big misconception that this is about young people. That’s baloney. It’s about healthy people. A healthy 20-year-old might only pay a $100 premium,” Robert Laszewski, President of Health Policy and Strategy Associates Inc., told the Washington Post. ”You want healthy 40 and 50-year-olds. The big problem right now is really total enrollment.”
Others in the industry remain worried. ”This is concerning to us that we’re seeing this portion come in so old,” Marty Anderson, marketing director for the Wisconsin-based Security Health Plan told the Wall Street Journal.