President Obama Hopes to Reach Young Americans Ahead of the HealthCare.gov Sign Up Deadline: Will it Work?

I immediately did a double take when I saw that the President of the United States of America was on the web faux talk show “Between Two Ferns” with Zach Galifianakis. I’ve always been a fan of the six minute clip show and the absurdity around it, but it comes as a complete surprise to see President Obama subjected to the humorous and sometimes awkward interview tactics of Galifianakis. Though an unorthodox choice to be sure, the President’s appearance on the show is likely a smart move for reaching young Americans.

Using Technology to Reach Young Americans is Not New for President Obama

Though the President’s appearance is somewhat surprising, we could have seen this coming. President Obama has always gone out of his way to use technology to reach out to the younger generation. Whether through his Twitter account, or specific almost cryptic campaign messages sent via email that have been dissected by plenty of intelligent people, #44 is the first president to take advantage of the power of the Internet to reach young Americans.

Can President Obama Encourage Young Americans to Sign up on HealthCare.gov?

When the Affordable Care Act was held up by the Supreme Court in June of 2012 and the Obama Administration launched HealthCare.gov, they were the butt of jokes across the country as the site was riddled with problems which made it just about impossible for anyone to sign up for health care. Approximately 100 days later, the site seems to finally have all of the bugs worked out, and the administration is doing all they can to try to get young Americans to sign up through the HealthCare.gov site before the deadline of March 31. Someone must have thought that appearing on a farce of an online talk show would help that cause.  I’m not positive if it will work, but I do know a few things.

  1. I laughed out loud a few times while watching the clip. Galifianakis didn’t hold back, and questioned Obama on his birth certificate, not playing football during his youth, and other comical topics.  The President looked him right in the eyes and fired back with plenty of zingers of his own.
  2. The clip launched at 7:30 am eastern this morning, and is being passed around the web more than just about anything I can remember
  3. I’m sure detractors will say that Obama shouldn’t be spending time on comedy when there is a budding war in the Ukraine, among other current events, but the clear difference is that he is trying to reach an audience who won’t be watching “Meet the Press” on Sunday mornings
  4. Regardless of your politics, it is refreshing to see a president use abstract tactics to reach out to a younger generation. We aren’t that far removed from Nancy Regan with the simple message of “Just Say No!”

The numbers prove that young Americans are opposed to what is called “Obamacare” with a recent survey showing that 57% of millennials are against the legislature. Therefore, the Administration needs to pull out all the stops to make young Americans aware that they could be eligible for affordable health insurance. Surveys show that an alarming number of people between the ages of 18-28 are not signing up for health care. Whether it’s because the cost is prohibitive, or they simply don’t think that they will be the one that comes down with a serious illness, it’s a problem that needs to be addressed.

I commend President Obama for taking an unorthodox approach, thinking outside the box and using the Internet and comedy to reach the target group to utilize HealthCare.gov. Regardless of how his appearance on “Between Two Ferns” is received by Washington pundits, it has people talking, and if that means more young people being covered by health insurance, then President Obama and his team achieved their goal, even if that means being teased by Galifianakis.