One of Obamacare’s key features is the state exchanges on which individuals will be able to buy health insurance–in effect, to buy health care, since little of what passes for “health insurance” is actually insurance. It is mostly just bill-paying. The theory is that some individuals will see cost savings, not because there is anything inherently efficient about the exchanges, but because the government will subsidize some purchasers’ premiums, depending on income. This means that other Americans will have to pay more, of course.
Many of the uninsured (I believe most) are young people who have made a rational calculation that health insurance is a bad investment for them. They don’t need much health care, and if they have a medical emergency it will probably either be a car accident or a work-related injury. In either case, other insurance will apply. And if they are unlucky enough to need serious medical care, they will get it for free in any event, in an emergency room or elsewhere. So why spend scarce resources on health insurance? Sure, Obamacare says if they don’t, they are supposed to pay a tax, but the tax is small and is probably uncollectible anyway.
So the federal government will team up with the states to try to persuade people to buy health insurance on the individual exchanges. In Minnesota, the exchange is called MNSure. Yesterday MNSure announced an advertising campaign to inform Minnesotans about the program, and persuade them to enroll. The overall theme is “Minnesota: Land of 10,000 reasons to get health insurance.”
The campaign, which reportedly will cost $9 million, involves television, print, radio, digital and other media. The ads are cute; they feature Paul Bunyan and his blue ox. This video was made, I think, by the PR agency that got the contract to promote MNSure. It shows samples of the ads in videos and other media:
The campaign includes ads on the sides of buses:
The ads are, as I said, cute, but some would find this billboard in questionable taste:
The MNSure site includes a “Your Stories” section that describes how the exchange might help particular Minnesotans. This one is named “Sam.”
Sam is a college graduate trying to build a successful career in public policy. Although relatively new to the business world, Sam has already encountered the knocks and uncertainties of an unstable, depressed economy.
That’s why we need Obamacare–the Obama economy is so lousy!
Finding a career-launching opportunity has been a struggle for the University of St. Thomas graduate who has degrees in philosophy and music.
There’s a shock.
After serving in the AmeriCorps program for 2 years, Sam found work at a co-op and as a weekend DJ. He also devotes hours interning at community organizations where he works with youth and urban gardens, two of his greater passions. “Despite my 2 jobs, 2 internships and a lot of job searching, I remain drastically under-employed,” says Sam.
Yes, like so many of his generation: full-time jobs are scarce when Obamacare penalizes any employer who hires an employee for 30 or more hours a week.
And then it happened, a simple twist of fate that we’re all sure won’t happen to us, a broken arm from a bike crash. “Neither of my jobs offered insurance at the time of the accident,” explains Sam, “and since a private plan proved too expensive for my budget, I was uninsured.”
Poor Sam! As an uninsured person, he had to forgo medical treatment, and his arm remains mangled to this day. No, wait…
At the urging of hospital staff, Sam applied for Medical Assistance and was approved due to his low income. As a result, he was able to afford the expensive hospital visits following his accident.
Sam looks forward to the time he can enroll in an employer-sponsored plan or afford his own coverage. But for now, he understands well the benefits of public programs like Medical Assistance or MinnesotaCare. “MA offers me access to preventative health care so I can stay healthy,” Sam states. “It gives me security and peace of mind. One major accident or illness could mean financial ruin and derailment from my current path towards self-sufficiency.”
Beginning in October, Medical Assistance recipients will enroll and select a health insurance plan through the MNsure marketplace.
On a massively subsidized basis, of course. I take it this means that instead of having his health care paid for by taxpayers of the State of Minnesota, Sam will have his health care paid for by taxpayers of the United States. This is what liberals call Progress.
The MNSure site includes a cost calculator where you can plug in your income and basic demographic data, and calculate the premium you would pay for “Silver” coverage. Just for fun, I filled out the online form, which took around 15 seconds, and was told that a Silver plan–no doubt vastly inferior to what I now have–would cost a mere $22,608 annually. This is because I am not eligible to be subsidized by the taxpayers. Like me.
What to make of all this? Some Democrats are convinced that Obamacare will become popular when voters realize that through programs like MNSure they (some of them, anyway) can get insurance at other people’s expense. And without feeling like a freeloader, too–Obama says health insurance is a right! Time will tell whether those optimistic Democrats will be proved right.