But a youthful vibe and YouTube smash is no guarantee of success.
The group has a budget of $750,000 for the opt-out campaign, a drop compared with the millions being deployed by advocates. The Creepy Uncle Sam videos have generated attention, but much of it focused on how the message is misleading. The government is not running the healthcare plans.
Some of the tea partys biggest donors, some of the wealthiest men in America, are funding a cynical ad campaign trying to convince young people not to buy healthcare at all, Obama said in a speech last month. 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?
Feinberg compared the videos with an attack ad that Democrats made as Rep. Paul Ryan, the House Republican budget chairman, engineered a plan to restructure Medicare.
Theyre not suggesting Paul Ryan is literally pushing granny off a cliff but trying to make a policy point, he said. Were trying to make a policy point that Obamacare is creepy and invasive. Its obvious satire.
The group, he insisted, has never suggested that people go without insurance, but only consider that cheaper coverage may be available outside the networks.
Gail Wilensky, an economist and former director of Medicare and Medicaid under President George H.W. Bush, explained that the healthcare law pushes up rates for young people in order to make the program more affordable for greater users. The law says the most needy cannot pay more than three times of the least dependent. It should be 5-to-1, she said.
Obamacare offers tax subsidies to offset the cost, though how much depends on what a person earns and may not be available for some plans for example, a catastrophic-care plan in Florida for people under 30. The law also says people who opt out cannot be discriminated against if they want to join later, which may encourage some to simply pay the penalty, which starts at a modest $95 in 2014 but begins to rise.
Nobody meant to discourage exactly the people they need to get in, the young immortals, Wilensky said. But they did a whole bunch of things to discourage them. All of these things by themselves are not unreasonable, but when you put them together it can be serious.
The work of Generation Opportunity and other detractors, she said, could just tilt it even more. Even if their motivations are wrong, what they are suggesting may not be unreasonable. The message of check out and see what the alternatives are is perfectly sound.
Of course, even if people do follow the groups advice and obtain coverage outside a marketplace, they are still fulfilling a goal of health reform to get as many people as possible insured. People who go outside Obamacare surrender any tax subsidies.
Fabien Levy, a spokesman for the department of Health and Human Services, said that enthusiasm has been high among young people. We made quality health coverage affordable, and now 6 in 10 Americans shopping for coverage in the marketplace can get coverage for $100 or less per month. Thats a great deal for young adults and all other Americans.
The Obama administration is highlighting success stories in videos, a sign of the stakes. To promote the marketplace, it has enlisted celebrities and the popular website FunnyorDie.com, and partnered with a group called Young Invincibles.
AARP has a campaign to get mothers to pester their children to sign up. And Enroll America, a group working on an awareness campaign, has fanned out across college campuses well ahead of Generation Opportunity.