Has this ever happened to you? You're in the middle of a routine physical exam when suddenly a nightmarish vision of Uncle Sam emerges from nowhere and needlessly probes your butt.
That's the hyperbolic take on ObamaCare put forward in a conservative ad from from Generation Opportunity, a group backed by the free-spending libertarian Koch brothers. Here's the video, along with another one aimed at women:
The message in both is clear: ObamaCare will, more or less, rape you at the doctor's office.
Extreme? Certainly. (New York's Jonathan Chait calls it the "rape-clown argument.") However, the ads' underlying goal is not to save you from unwanted prostate exams, but rather to defeat the health-care law by convincing the uninsured — and especially young adults — to "opt out" of ObamaCare.
Starting October 1, Americans can begin enrolling in health-care exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act. The exchanges are intended to enroll millions of uninsured Americans, creating a huge new pool of customers that will, in theory, force insurance companies to compete against each other and drive down prices for everyone.
The exchanges need to attract plenty of young, healthy Americans to help defray the costs of adding older, sicker people to the insurance pool. Young people tend to have lower health-care costs, which drives down premiums for everyone.
That's where the Uncle Sam ads come in. They're just the latest incarnation of an ongoing campaign by conservative groups to spook young people into staying uninsured, thus spoiling the exchange rollout and dooming ObamaCare.
The conservative group FreedomWorks launched a campaign this summer telling Americans, "Burn your ObamaCare card." Though there is actually no such card, the group aims to equate the health-care law with the military draft.
"We're trying to make it socially acceptable to skip the exchange," FreedomWorks' Dean Clancy told Reuters.
Another anti-ObamaCare group, Americans for Prosperity, is spending upwards of $1 million on ads sowing confusion about the law and urging people to not enroll. One ad features a woman who, while fretting about her son's health problems, suggests the ACA will raise health-care costs and prevent people from being able to choose their own doctors. (The latter claim is completely false, says FactCheck.org.)
Citizens for Healthcare Freedom even released a flier explicitly outlining the movement's goal.
"If not enough people enroll, the exchanges will fail," the flier says. "If the exchanges fail, ObamaCare fails."
With the exchanges about to kick in, more of this kind of messaging is on the way. Generation Opportunity's Burger King-esque Uncle Sam ads are just one part of a larger, six-figure campaign that's just getting underway.
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, 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. [Yahoo]
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- These 5 things will definitely happen after Obama moves on immigration
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- What could happen if the Supreme Court rules against ObamaCare
- 10 classic Sesame Street moments we wouldn't show today's kids
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- On immigration, Obama is flirting with tyranny
- Why are newspaper comics so terrible?
- Hillary Clinton needs to win big in 2016. Here's how she can do it.
- Don't change a thing: 8 inventions that never needed updating
- An ode to the great American road trip
Subscribe to the Week