Creepy Koch Ad Tells Young People To Go Uninsured

Chris Moody at Yahoo! News reports on what may be the most over-the-top anti-"Obamacare" ad ever made–and though we haven't seen them all, we're pretty sure that's saying a lot:

Generation Opportunity, a Virginia-based group that is part of a coalition of right-leaning organizations with financial ties to billionaire businessmen and political activists Charles and David Koch, will launch a six-figure campaign aimed at convincing young people to “opt-out” of the Obamacare exchanges. Later this month, the group will begin a tour of 20 college campuses, where they plan to set up shop alongside pro-Obamacare activists such as Enroll America that are working to sign people up for the insurance exchanges.

Generation Opportunity intends to host events at college football tailgate parties festivals, where “brand ambassadors” (read: hot young people) will pass out beer koozies that read “opt out,” pizza and literature about the health care law. Some events may have impromptu dance parties with DJ’s, complete with games of cornhole and competitions for prizes, organizers said.

Their message: You don’t have to sign up for Obamacare. And they want students to sign a pledge not get insurance plans set up by the law.

“What we’re trying to communicate is, 'No, you’re actually not required to buy health insurance,'” Generation Opportunity President Evan Feinberg told Yahoo News in an interview about the campaign. “You might have to pay a fine, but that’s going to be cheaper for you and better for you.” [Pols emphasis]

We haven't heard yet if any Colorado college campuses are being targeted by this group, but we wouldn't be a bit surprised to see them on the Boulder University of Colorado campus or elsewhere in our swing state. The insidious message here, that it's better for young people to go uninsured than buy heath insurance through an exchange established by "Obamacare," is of course a terrible recommendation public policy-wise. Before it became fashionable on the right to reject everything even remotely connected to President Barack Obama, an individual mandate to purchase health insurance was the recommendation of conservative groups like the Heritage Foundation–who realized that the system needed fixing by bringing young people into the insurance risk pool. To tell young people today they should be uninsured is probably the most effective thing the right can do to undermine health care reform, and the destructive side effects are acceptable in pursuit of that goal.

Fortunately, the only thing this ad will convince anyone of is that the people who made it have issues.

53 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Littletonian says:

    I'm bothered by the individual mandate component of the health care law because it requires me to purchase the "services" of a profit-motivated corporation that has demonstrated no interest in preserving my personal health.

    I supported the individual mandate section when the healthcare bill was going to have a public option. Without one? It's not good public policy.

    • gertie97 says:

      Hey, Little: I don't like the forced buying of car insurance from for-profit insurance companies. But we have to. I don't like paying taxes for schools when we don't have kids in school any more.I don't like it when our property insurance goes up 40 percent because selfish idiots decide to live in what the late Ed Quillen called the stupid zone.



      • Littletonian says:

        Re: car insurance – you always have the option not to own a car.

        Re: schools – you don't have to pay taxes to support for-profit education companies.

        Re: property insurance – homeowner's insurance isn't required by law.

        Healthcare is the only area where the government requires you to purchase a service from a for-profit corporation, and that's messed up.

        • BlueCatBlueCat says:

          And you don't have the option of not having a body and therefore not requiring healthcare.

        • cdsmithus says:

          You absolutely do pay taxes that support for-profit education companies.  Schools are big business.  For a decade now, Colorado has had charter schools that are little more than front groups for K12 (, a company that specializes in overly expensive school curricula because… well, technology.  In Colorado, there are many places where parents can sign up for their kids to get a free computer and access to K12's online course materials, and something like a one-hour weekly telephone call with an actual teacher.  Your tax money pays for it.

          If you play this rhetorical game, the answer you get to is that we shouldn't be funding education, just because there are problems with some of how it's done.  That's ultimately a game played by the anti-government conserva-anarchist faction.  Health care matters, and we have to provide health care even when we don't have a perfect system for it yet.  Mandatory insurance with subsidies based on income is still a far better alternative than pushing ininsured masses into emergency rooms to receive inadequate and vastly overpriced medical care at the public's expense.

          So fine, you don't like it.  I don't either.  Keep pushing for something better.

          • Littletonian says:

            My suggestion is that a healthcare system with an individual mandate (and no public option) is inferior to a healthcare system without an individual mandate (and no public option).

            There are other things I liked about the ACA, of course. But this is really a screwed up system.

            (Oh, and re: K12. I suppose that some Colorado taxpayers support them. But education funding overwhelmingly comes from property taxes (which I don't pay because I don't own real estate), and is localized by county (and K12 isn't active in the vast majority of Colorado counties). But that's no different than paying federal taxes that eventually end up going to defense contractors. The individual mandate isn't a tax – it's a government mandate to purchase a service from an industry famous for extorting people and denying liability whenever possible. Messed. Up.)

            • gertie97 says:

              Little: you're woefully misinformed if you think you don't pay property taxes because you don't own real estate. If you pay rent for where you live, you pay real estate taxes. The property owner pays real estate taxes out of the rents collected.

              Or maybe you squat under a bridge?


        • gaf says:

          You can buy health insurance from a non-profit.

          • BlueCatBlueCat says:

            But the costs in our system are driven by the for profit sector. If you have ever had to buy your own insurance and aren't at least upper middle class you'd know that it is not possible for a low to middle income person to find anything that provides truly comprehensive quality coverage for an affordable price period. Profit, non-profit, the only thing we self insured of modest means can afford are relatively crappy high deductible plans that feel more like extortion than coverage. Mandate without public option sucks.

    • BlueCatBlueCat says:

      I strongly agree that it's completely unjust to have a mandate without a public option.  The store was given away before negotiations even started on that score by refusing single payer a place at the table for bargaining purposes which instantly made public option, in the absence of single payer, the unattainable extreme position, bearing in mind that the most asked for by either side in any negotiation is an unattainable. It just serves to mark the starting point for what will be a march from the two sides' opening positions toward a compromise between the two. 

      Obama, with completely misguided puppy like confidence that people were really going to pressure the right into some lets all hold hands post partisan spirit of compromise, started right off with an opening position giving the right 90% of what they wanted for starters and being forced to give up most of the rest. The result was a less than appealing plan instantly made as unpopular as possible by rightie propaganda while Dem pols cowered and refused to talk about its positives because they didn't want to talk about it at all.

      However, I'm seeing some hope for future movement towards a public option in the decision of some large companies to offer either just their retired covered employees or both retired and current employees a stipend instead of company coverage to be used on private exchanges.  

      This move away from direct employer provided insurance could be leveraged into a first step toward public option availability. It should prepare the ground for arguments that, instead of cut rate private options that leave people insufficiently covered, the logical thing to do is to expand our highly successful existing public plan, medicare,  to provide a true quality basic package for all for a much more affordable price. Bells and whistles would still be available through supplemental private insurers as is the case with present medicare.

      With basics universally covered, companies could even attract employees by offering these supplemental plans as benefits at a much lower cost to both the company and the employee than it costs to provide comprehensive coverage, something fewer employers are doing very well at an affordable  employee contribution level,  now.  

      When people see how little they're getting for their stipends in the private exchanges, how much out of pocket liability is connected with the "affordable" plans, it should be much easier to educate them as to how much more they will be able to get for less with a true universal medicare based public plan.

      As far as these ads go, anyone with more brains than toast should know that there is already a scary figure interposed between you and your doctor and it's your private for profit insurer who's entire motivation is to get as much money out of you for as little in cost to them for medical services as they can get away with.

      Another public coverage plus to sell will be that you won't have to worry about the beliefs of employers and how that might impact your coverage. With a public option, any basic legal health need, such as family planning, should be covered in the public package without your employer occupying that scary position between you and your doctor, along with private insurer gatekeepers, either.

      Who knows? Maybe we'll be able to join the 21st century civilized world in terms of healthcare within a decade? As with gay rights, we just need to reach a tipping point with an assist from demographics.

      • Littletonian says:

        This is good analysis – especially re: misguided negotiating tactics. I wish I shared your optimism about future public option prospects. I think that's still a long, long way off.

        • gertie97 says:

          It'll happen, eventually. Something like 18 percent of our GNP goes to the medical industrial complex now, and it's growing. At what point will all of us finally say enough already?

        • BlueCatBlueCat says:

          Maybe, but didn't civil union much less gay marriage seem very far off just a few years back? Now all it's going to take is one  gay couple to sue because they moved to a state where their legal marriage isn't recognized and full faith and credit will win the day and end anyone's right in any state to treat a legal gay marriage differently than a legal hetero marriage, just as no state can treat a legal inter-racial marriage differently after that tipping point was reached. 

          Wasn't it common knowledge that the first African American President was still a long way off just a few years before Obama? That America just wasn't ready for that yet? 

          How long between no admitted gays allowed in the military to Don't Ask, Don't Tell to….  Are you kidding, what's the big deal? Not as long as would have been predicted in the 90s.

          These things tend to happen not just with slow steady hill climbing, although that comes first and is very important, but with some pretty sudden critical mass. Tipping points, my friend. Tipping points.

  2. bullshit!bullshit! says:

    This ad is such bullshit. You can't "sign up" for Obamacare. You buy insurance.

    Oh, and Uncle Sam won't be violating you with a speculum either. Fucking sickos…

  3. ajb says:

    Littletonian – tell that to the Swiss. (Though, to be fair, basic health insurance is sold on a non-profit basis.)


    • Littletonian says:

      Huh? That article says that the Swiss have a public health system.

      • ajb says:

        No, it doesn't. 

        "Swiss are required to purchase basic health insurance, which covers a range of treatments detailed in the Swiss Federal Law on Health Insurance. It is therefore the same throughout the country and avoids double standards in healthcare. Insurers are required to offer this basic insurance to everyone, regardless of age or medical condition. They are not allowed to make a profit off this basic insurance, but can on supplemental plans."

        • BlueCatBlueCat says:

          ummm… that not allowed to make a profit part makes it nothing at all like a mandate here in insurance for profit and tons of it land. Littletonians point stands as long as that's the case.

          • DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

            I believe there's a limit to the % that can be profits for insurance companies. I think they're headed the way of public utilities. And that could work ok.

            • BlueCatBlueCat says:

              The average American won't have access to the same quality of health care as the rest of the civilized world until we join all the other modern industrialized nations in treating quality healthcare as an essential right in any society that wishes to be considered above barbarism. 

          • ajb says:

            It is a difference, but the insurance isn't a single payer govt run entity. It's a private company. Lots of hospitals are private nonprofits. Also, the Swiss have a mandate. I think the similarities outweigh the duffs. 

              • BlueCatBlueCat says:

                I also think the situation in a very small, very wealthy country like Switzerland is much different than in a huge diverse country like the US, regardless of the fact of a private insurance system banned from being a for profit enterprise in Switzerland. That said, that difference alone is too enormous and fundamental to be outweighed in any meaningful way by other factors.

                In our case, in this country, with our social conditions and our entrenched, all powerful for profit health insurance industry, mandate without public option sucks.

                • Not Dame Edna says:

                  I'm a fan of single payer myself so I am disappointed with the Affordable Care Act. But it is what we have right now.

                  There will be non-profit options on the Exchange, I suggest those eligible only buy those and screw United, Aetna, and all the rest of those vampires.

                  For those interested in looking into non-profit healthcare options, here in Colorado there is Rocky Mountain Health Plans and Kaiser Permanente. Here in Denver, Denver Health will be offering different plans and there is also a new cooperative model being started. The Farmers Union , I think.

                  • BlueCatBlueCat says:

                    Agree that Affordable Care act is what we have now and it includes a few thngs that make it preferable to the GOP Darwinian style coverage that tells you to please just go die if you have anything that can be considered a pre-existing condition or get really sick, at which point they you can just get dropped..

                    Have not checked out options yet but don't remember Kaiser being particularly more affordable than for profits. This is as enthusiastic as I can get about reform so far. 

                    Still think it's preposterous that we're the world's only super power and also the worlds only modern industrialized nation without intelligent, quality affordable health care for all but with stats that put us on a par with third world nations. 


                    Rush once threatened to move to Costa Rica, puzzling since they have a great guaranteed public health care system along with private options for bells and whistles, if Obamacare passed here. Did he miss his plane or something? 

            • BlueCatBlueCat says:

              Once again, it's not the same at all. You can't compare a mandate in a system in which coverage is removed from the for profit sector to a mandate through which we are ordered, with no public option, to be subject to for profit companies.

              It is also not like auto insurance since we don't have to have cars to live either.  We have  no choice about possessing bodies and nothing we can do can guarantee that we won't need serious, expensive heatth care whether we can afford it or not. 20 somethings may feel invincible but that doesn't mean they can't get cancer with or without adequate coverage.

              Those who will buy minimal for profit insurance on the exchanges and find themselves seriously ill will continue to make the cost of healthcare in the US twice or more what it is in peer countries with poorer outcomes.

              It may seem long ago but Obama ran in 2008 on the idea of offering a public option and spoke dismissively of simply adding a mandate to the private insurance system. Sorry if I'm not all that crazy about what is, after all, modeled almost entirely on Romneycare. The only reason I support it at all is because  the only alternative at the moment is the barbarism of the GOP Darwinian approach to healthcare.

              Funny how righties hate evolution but love social Darewinism. 

  4. Tom says:

    I’m kind of looking forward to seeing some of these folks on campus since college students are required to have insurance in Colorado. They might be convinced

    • Tom says:

      oops… the comment was cut off.

      … students might be convinced to forego benefits they’re eligible for (subsidies, etc) but they’ve had a mandate for years, so Generation Opportunity would be wasting the effort

    • Gilpin Guy says:

      Young college students might not have to worry about elderly illnesses like Shingles and constipation but they are much more likely to have accidents will snowboarding or driving so it is important to their futures to have affordable health insurance.  My son lived in Breckenridge for several winters and every year there were friends who didn't have health insurance and ended up with a $10,000 bill when they broke a leg.  There are a lot of incentives for young people to sign up for affordable health care.

  5. Not Dame Edna says:

    Instead of bitching about this, something needs to be done to counteract this. On campus. In person.

    And  Tom, there is no requirement that college students have insurance though they do have acces to basic services on campus.

    • BlueCatBlueCat says:

      There's always the hope that more college students are smarter than a bag of rocks compared to the average person these wackos usually target?   Students as a group aren't one of the right's good demos, after all. But it is very important for Dems  to have a strong presence on campus to counter a strong wacko effort.

  6. mamajama55mamajama55 says:

    ND Edna and Tom, I still have a kid in college. Campuses vary, but when applying for full time financial aid, the choices are: 1) accept the college health plan, which covers basic emergency and outpatient and mental health services, (and pay for it), 2) show that you are covered under parent's health services, or 3) present a waiver signed by student and parents if under 21.

    These choices will probably change under ACA, but that's what they were.

  7. Not Dame Edna says:

    Your point #3 confirms that health insurance is not required. Also, not all students apply for financial aid.

    My son is at a community college. We paid an "activity fee" that allows him access to an on campus facility that provides very limited health services. Mostly vaccinations and some mental health care services. The activity fee was optional.

    • Tom says:

      CU, CSU, UNC, DU, Colorado Christian College, Mines, and Metro all require students to be covered by insurance in order to enroll. If a student can't show proof of adequate coverage, they are automatically enrolled in a plan provided by the university. It doesn't have anything to do with financial aid, other than some schools have a threshold for the number of credit hours before the requirement kicks in– all of the above are 8 credit hours or fewer for both graduate and undergraduate students.

      The only CO schools that I can find that treat health insurance as voluntary are UCD, CCD, and Western State. Adams State is voluntary except for international students.

      • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

        Yup. Correctamundo, Tom…it's hours enrolled, i.e part time vs full time student status, that triggers the student health insurance requirement.  However, I think that there is still a waiver, but the waiver condition is that the student is privately insured.

         As for this Koch Brothers  ad, I think that it promotes rape culture, which is on campus radar these days.  Good reason to keep the Obamacare repellers off campus.

  8. Not Dame Edna says:

    I should add, that things will probably change with the implementation of the ACA. I suspect that many with out insurance may qualify under the Medicaid expansion or at least for some sort of subsidy.

  9. God this ad is repulsive. This from the party who likes mandatory sonagrams with transvaginal probes and whose views on womens issues are from the stone age.

  10. Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

    Is there no bottom to this pit…..?

  11. DavieDavie says:

    So basically the Koch brothers' sales pitch is:

    Hey, we're looking for Shit-for-brains kids to be cannon-fodder in our war against that black guy in the White House.

    This is all about us, and we really don't give a crap what happens to you.  This is just about winning.  Anyone interested?

  12. Hawkeye-X says:

    This is a clear reason why Koch brothers needs to be arrested as domestic terrorists and thrown into Gitmo for life. And seize ALL funds and assets associated with the Koch brothers, and shut down all right-wing think tanks linked with Koch brothers, anything they own in business (as in the toilet paper you wipe – Georgia Pacific (Charmin, etc), and the paper dish you wipe vcalled Dixies) should be transferred over to the people that works for that respective companies and given fair living wages.

    Koch brothers are deep into Birch Society, and that is here the right-wing fuckwits are coming from. And it's time to burn it down and destroy it.

    I had enough of this bullshit, and it's time to end the Koch propaganda, and this is certainly the worst of it. The actresses should be ashamed of making this ridiculous film, while the perv in Uncle Sam is awaiting sentencing for lewd behavior in multiple states.


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