Next time you visit the doctor’s office, make sure to keep your eyes peeled for a giant papier-mâché Uncle Sam threatening to violate you.
In an attempt to keep college-aged people from signing up for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), known by some as “Obamacare”, an organization called Generation Opportunity has begun running several anti-ACA ads.
Generation Opportunity is a national assembly directed at and comprised of youth representatives funded by politically-charged businessmen David and Charles Koch of Koch Industries and Tea Party fame.
If you’ve seen the ads, you know that they both go the same way: a young, healthy person goes in for a visit to the doctor – a pap smear for the ad featuring a young lady and a prostate exam for the ad featuring the young gentleman. As the doctor questions them, it is revealed that they each have recently enrolled in an ACA exchange.
As each patient waits for their exam to begin, haunting music begins to play as the doctor exits the room and a nightmarish, grinning Uncle Sam pops up, snapping on a rubber glove or manically clicking a speculum. The clip fades to black, leaving the implication that the Uncle Sam figure is about to violate the patient. A notice appears imploring young people to opt out of Obamacare.
The message is clear. Don’t let the government “play doctor”; the President should not be in charge of your healthcare.
The ads are succinct and bound to frighten some. Generation Opportunity is also touring college campuses across the nation in order to spread their message and get students to steer clear of ACA programs. These young people can even pick up a free beer koozie to commemorate the occasion. The group hopes to dissuade enough healthy young people from signing up for the ACA exchanges that the program is ultimately unsuccesful. The healthcare exchanges created by the ACA need young, healthy people to join in with the elderly and ill so more money is going into the accounts than is coming out.
Generation Opportunity’s marketing efforts have been met with mixed response.
Some express displeasure at the implication that the ACA can be equated to sexual assault. The president himself has even slammed the ads, pointing out that they were funded by a pair of billionaires who likely have great healthcare coverage.
“Now, do you think if you get sick or if you get hurt and you get stuck with a massive bill, these same folks are going to help you out? Are they going to pay for your healthcare?” Obama said.
Others, like Senator Ted Cruz, posit that once the ACA is fully rolled out, it will never disappear. In fact, he was so concerned about it that he and a couple of friends shut down the Federal government. They also fear, as many conservative publications have decried of late, that the ACA will lead to massive data collection and invasion of privacy.
While Generation Opportunity is out there advocating against the ACA, the President is likewise advocating in favor of it. On September 24, he was interviewed on camera by former President Bill Clinton – the Obama administration’s aptly nicknamed “Secretary of Explaining S***”- expressing his confidence that the program will succeed if people are given correct information.
“Look, just go to the website yourself… take a look at whether this is a good deal or not, and make your own decision about whether this is good for you,” said Clinton.
He is confident that if people take those steps, they will be encouraged to support the plan.
When asked why the plan was still so unpopular if it was so great, he responded “When you come to healthcare, there’s no more personal and intimate decision for people… And frankly, the devil you know is always better than the devil you don’t know.”
He also posited that people are scared by the change, but will welcome it if they look into the plan themselves.
And so the debate continues as new programs under the ACA umbrella continue to be rolled out.
Students everywhere are finding themselves in the middle of this tension – particularly because both sides are fighting for youth support. Here at Seattle University, the mass seems to sway to the left.
“[The ACA] is a great opportunity,” said junior Ethan Bates, endorsing the program for what he considers to be its fairness.
Others like the spirit of the plan, but feel hesitant to commit to it.
“It could take the edge off of the pretty abysmal situation we have right now,” said an anonymous freshman. “It’s like tuning up an old car- it’s going to run better for a little bit, but it’s not going to run a lot better, and not for a long time.”
Many students admit that they don’t feel informed enough about the ACA to give an opinion, a signal that perhaps that the President’s educational efforts may have been less than successful.
Still, they shared discomfort with their peers when shown one of the new anti-ACA ads. One student said that she could tell that the point of the ad was to make her feel uncomfortable. Another said that he felt as though the ad was inaccurate in terms of how big of an invasion into privacy ACA really is.
Regardless of their position on the ACA, or how much they know about it, it’s undeniable that young people are going to be instrumental in the success or failure of the program and ultimately, responsible for dictating the healthcare of the nation.