Republicans use weird, creepy tactics to push college students away from Obamacare

Republicans are pushing college students to opt out of Obamacare, and they’re doing it by invading that most sacred of college institutions: the tailgate party.

Generation Opportunity, a Virginia-based group that is part of a coalition of right-leaning organizations with financial ties to billionaire businessmen and political activists Charles and David Koch, will launch a six-figure campaign aimed at convincing young people to “opt-out” of the Obamacare exchanges. Later this month, the group will begin a tour of 20 college campuses, where they plan to set up shop alongside pro-Obamacare activists such as Enroll America that are working to sign people up for the insurance exchanges.

Generation Opportunity intends to host events at college tailgate parties festivals [sic], where “brand ambassadors” (read: hot young people) will pass out beer koozies that read “opt out,” pizza and literature about the health care law. Some events may have impromptu dance parties with DJ’s, complete with games of cornhole and competitions for prizes, organizers said.

Their message: You don’t have to sign up for Obamacare. And they want students to sign a pledge not get [sic] insurance plans set up by the law.

Generation Opportunity is correct in that the students don’t have to sign up for Obamacare; uninsured individuals can choose not to enroll and instead face a fine of $95 per individual, up to a family total of $285 or 1 percent of the family’s income in 2014. However, that fine increases over the next two years to $695 per individual, up to a family total of $2,085 or 2.5 percent of family income by 2016. On the other hand, insurance subsidies will be available to eligible individuals making up to four times the federal poverty level, an estimated 25.7 million people that will include the 51.8 percent of off-campus students who live below the poverty line. (I’ll back that up with a link as soon as I can, but right now the Census Bureau site seems to be down for some reason…) So when Generation Opportunity President Evan Feinberg tells students that “[they] might have to pay a fine, but that’s going to be cheaper for [them] and better for [them],” it’s an assertion he might not be able to back up. Nor does he address the financial ramifications of going uninsured in the face of the alcohol-related incidents, car accidents, sports injuries, stress-related illnesses, and dorms full of communicable diseases common to college life.

While Feinberg says his intent is not to kill the law, he says, “If young people do opt out en masse, it will put the law in a bind for sure. If it means they have to repeal it because it doesn’t work and that ends up crippling the law, well fine. Then they have to make some changes or repeal the law to make it work.” In other words: College students should endanger their own health in order to kill this law.

Generation Opportunity’s campaign has already launched in the form of two seriously creepy and potentially triggery ads (not kidding here) featuring a weird, Burger King king-looking Uncle Sam character preparing to perform a pelvic exam and a prostate exam that admonish us “Don’t let government play doctor,” and I beg you not to click those links because I’m going to be seeing creepy-ass Uncle Sam in my nightmares. The full campaign is expected to run in the neighborhood of $750,000 and will target areas where Enroll America has a presence.

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23 Responses

  1. Athenia
    Athenia October 3, 2013 at 1:51 pm |

    It’s not creepy–it sounds sexist and homophobic! (Not sure if I should click on the links… >.<)

    1. Willemina
      Willemina October 3, 2013 at 2:13 pm |

      It’s like, ceramic clown doll creepy.

      1. EG
        EG October 3, 2013 at 2:20 pm |

        Clowns in general, really.

      2. The Real Pope
        The Real Pope October 4, 2013 at 12:08 am |

        Please don’t use clownist language.

        1. TimmyTwinkles
          TimmyTwinkles October 4, 2013 at 11:53 am |

          Agreed, mods please address any clownsphobic posts.

        2. EG
          EG October 4, 2013 at 1:42 pm |

          Clowns are just objectively horrible and that’s that. Anybody who disagrees is just signing on to their perverse clown-hugging agenda.

    2. Donna L
      Donna L October 3, 2013 at 3:30 pm |

      It’s definitely creepy. Like a horror movie. I wish I hadn’t looked.

  2. Kierra
    Kierra October 3, 2013 at 2:37 pm |

    Aren’t most college students at an age where they can still be included on their parent’s health insurance? Also, I’m not sure how prevalent this is, but my university required all students to have some kind of health insurance and if you weren’t on any plan you were put on the university plan (which sucked btw, but was at least something).

    1. EG
      EG October 3, 2013 at 2:45 pm |

      Depends on whether or not your parents have insurance. Depends on the policy of the insurance if they have it. Depends on your age, whether you took time away from school, your relationship with your parents.

      The university I teach at does not have that rule. I imagine that if they did, a significant percentage of our students would not be able to enroll.

      1. anony-mouse
        anony-mouse October 3, 2013 at 10:46 pm |

        Depends on whether or not your parents have insurance. Depends on the policy of the insurance if they have it. Depends on your age, whether you took time away from school, your relationship with your parents.

        Exactly. There are so many reasons that a student might not have insurance coverage through their parents/guardians. In fact, they might not have parents.

        There are even students who work full time (going to school part time) but most likely that full time job does not include insurance coverage. Been there, done that.

        1. DAS
          DAS October 6, 2013 at 11:26 am |

          Not to mention post-docs and adjunct faculty members. Having been an underinsured post-doc, I do wonder how they expect a post-doc to pay 7.5% of his/her salary for health insurance.

          Also, what happens if you cannot find health insurance for less than 7.5% of your income? How much paperwork are we expecting someone working 2+ part time jobs to fill out to prove that even though the exchanges claim she can expect to spend a barely affordable $250/month for health care (7.5% of her total income) when she actually gets a quote, it’s for $350/month?

          And what about bait and switch? You sign up for that $350/month health plan and suddenly you are being billed $500/month; whose gonna do something about that? I imagine if a state AG tries, the feds will scream that it’s their jurisdiction, but do you think Holder will do anything about it?

          If I am a healthy 30 year old making just enough above the poverty rate not to qualify for any subsidies (if insurance is available at the prices ACA informational sites claim it’s available), not paying 7.5% for health insurance but rather paying a 2.5% fine may very well be a rational choice. This describes many post-docs and “non-traditional” students … these might not be the people the GOP thinks they are targeting with their clown show, but they would be a good audience for the GOP here … and to me that’s sad: is it really a benefit to make health care available at $250/month rather than the pre-ACA rate of $500/month if you cannot even afford $250/month and yet the government claims you can afford it?

      2. TomSims
        TomSims October 4, 2013 at 1:31 pm |

        My grandkids are covered up to age 26 under Obamacare on my daughter and son in law’s insurance.

  3. Tyris
    Tyris October 3, 2013 at 2:58 pm |

    Someone, somewhere in the Republican party, said to themselves, “this shutting down the government thing is great, but how can we get even more ridiculous?”

  4. The Real Pope
    The Real Pope October 3, 2013 at 11:19 pm |

    Well, they made a creepy rape ad for both sexes at least. That’s sort of progress, in a weird roundabout way.

  5. emily
    emily October 4, 2013 at 7:31 am |

    I’m just so mind boggled by the hypocrisy of the right wing and the people who created this ad. Don’t let the government play doctor, unless it has to do with women’s health, amirite? (In which case it is actually playing doctor, opposed to here where it isn’t.) Ugh!

    “College students should endanger their own health in order to kill this law.”

    That’s really sickening, but yes, that’s my understanding of their position. I’m really saddened that one political party would put themselves over the welfare of the people. I don’t watch/read Game of Thones, but apparently someone there said of someone else that he would burn down the kingdom if he could be king of the ashes. That’s what I think of the right wing.

    1. DAS
      DAS October 6, 2013 at 12:14 pm |

      There is a saying in the Jewish ethical literature (more precisely in “Chapters of the Fathers”) that “it is better to be a tail of lions than a head of foxes”. The GOP leaders, OTOH, would rather be gentry and nobles in a quasi-subsidence society than bourgeois in a thriving democratic republic.

  6. Athenia
    Athenia October 4, 2013 at 11:42 am |

    What I find so interesting about this sort of thing is that say college dudes may not have an incentive to sign up other than the obvious, but I would imagine college girls have a higher incentive to sign up cuz birth control.

    Also, I find it kinda sad/ironic/horrible that they are trying to scare college girls with a pelvic exam. Sure, you don’t need to get a pap smear if you are not sexually active, but my mom made me go to the gyno at 18, regardless. So, I wonder how many of the college ladies have already had a pelvic exam!

  7. Canisse
    Canisse October 5, 2013 at 9:45 am |

    It’s kinda weird to have the republicans do an ad like that. I mean, “Don’t let the government play doctor”? Change it just a little, and it can easily become about abortion laws. You know, compulsory ultrasounds for abortions? That seems a lot more relevant to these ads than Obamacare is.

    1. foxy
      foxy October 5, 2013 at 11:27 pm |

      The koch brothers support abortions.

      1. EG
        EG October 6, 2013 at 8:41 am |
        1. DAS
          DAS October 6, 2013 at 12:22 pm |

          They support abortions when they want their agenda to seen as “libertarian” and oppose abortions when they want to keep conservatives on board. Say what you will about the Koch brothers, but they are really good with the long game; heck, they even helped start and fund the Cato Institute which often has specific policy suggestions that would hurt the Kochs and their ilk. Why? Because in general Cato legitimizes the Koch’s “glibertarian” agenda and a few specific disagreements with the particulars of the Koch agenda are a feature not a bug as they ensure that Cato is seen as independent which is important if you are trying to legitimize your overall agenda.

        2. EG
          EG October 6, 2013 at 1:03 pm |

          But do they ever fund any abortion funds or abortion rights advocacy groups? If they’re pouring money into supporting forced-birth laws, I don’t care if every so often they mouth libertarian platitudes.

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