Generation Opportunity, the Koch-funded group urging young people to "opt out" of Obamacare, has spent a lot of time trying to appear cool. More time, perhaps, than they've spent researching their assertion that Obamacare is a "bad deal" for millenials. When we interviewed GenOpp comms director David Pasch in October, he admitted the group was still "working on" the math to back up that claim.
Nevertheless, GenOpp has pushed forward, throwing booze-fueled tailgates at colleges across the country to spread their "opt out" message. They have their logo emblazoned across the koozies, bottle openers, and sunglasses they pass out to undergrads every weekend. They bring a beer pong table to each event. GenOpp's mascot, Creepy Uncle Sam, gladly poses for photos with half-naked co-eds.
And now, GenOpp announces that it will join Snapchat, a popular photo-sharing app among youths. Snapchat is often used to send nude photos (since the images "disappear" after 10 seconds). The group announced the move with a Youtube video that's a play on the House of Cards Season 2 teaser. Instead of Robin Wright seductively dragging on a cigarette, it's Creepy Uncle Sam. (GenOpp's betraying their Beltway influence here. No one outside of Capitol Hill thinks House of Cards is cool.) Interested parties can find GenOpp at "creepyuncle.sam" on Snapchat.
Though Pasch and GenOpp President Evan Feinberg insist they don't have the cash to fully research why Obamacare is a "bad deal" for young people, they've certainly spent enough on this coolness campaign. And the "here's some pizza" strategy seems to be working on default-Republican undergrads who don't care to learn any more about Obamacare than they already know. Francesca Chambers at The Weekly Standard reports this exchange that happened at Notre Dame over the weekend:
Two [students], Sarah and Shannon, ... said they consider themselves Republicans, but hadn’t heard about the tailgate. A Generation Opportunity staffer with pizza ... "was like, ‘We have two cars full of pizza, do you want some?’ And we’re like, ‘Sure, we’ll follow!’” said Shannon, who was familiar with the group’s Creepy Uncle Sam ads.
“The pizza’s a big plus,” Sarah added. “I mean I’m Republican, and my family’s Republican, and my grandpa is like, ‘Do you know anything about what’s going on?’ And I don’t because I haven’t kept up with anything. But whatever [GenOpp's] doing, I’d be interested in learning more.”
GenOpp claims that young people could simply pay the fine for not enrolling in Obamacare and then purchase cheap, catastrophic coverage on the private insurance market. The claim isn't backed up by any hard numbers, and as we've noted before, it doesn't really make sense — most insurance companies are canceling plans that don't comply with the ACA. Further, if young people don't buy an Obamacare plan, they disqualify themselves from receiving subsidies that would make their coverage cheaper.
So it seems the message some undergrads are taking away from the GenOpp campaign is to opt out of health insurance altogether. Notre Dame pre-med student Stephen Fox told Chambers, "Young people don’t need [health insurance] —the majority that is — I mean we’re all healthy."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.