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Frat-tastic brosurance ads aren't doing ObamaCare any favors
Health insurance may be the one area where keg stands and Solo cups don't make things better

(GotInsuranceColorado.org)

ObamaCare supporters are pulling out all the frat-tastic stops to convince bros they'll need insurance for when those keg stands go awry. And for good reason: ObamaCare needs the bros more than many of the Ray Ban-wearing dudes need it.

The Colorado Consumer Health Initiative and ProgessNow Colorado Education have launched a series of ads featuring stereotypically fratty bros in need of ObamaCare. In one, three "bros for life" named Rob, Zach, and Sam are doing a keg stand (above).

The bro ads are part of a larger campaign called "Got Insurance?", which features other demographics, including moms, little kids, and pregnant women. The rest of the ads rely less on humor, soberly enumerating why the specific people featured in them need health insurance. The strikingly different tone in the bro ads makes sense because insurance is not an obvious sell to young males.

And there's the rub: The bro demographic is one of the most critical populations to ObamaCare's success and potentially the hardest to convince to join. While it's unclear how much self-damage you can incur from a keg stand (other than to your pride), males in their twenties are pretty healthy and are less likely to actually use health insurance than their parents or grandparents, "which makes them a huge boon to the insurance marketplace," writes Sarah Kliff at Washington Post.

To put it in bald terms, the healthy people in the system have to offset the sick people. In order for premiums not to jump for everyone else, of the seven million people expected to enroll in the near future, 2.7 million need to be young adults, says Kliff.

Dudes are actually even more important because ObamaCare has eliminated the gender rating, the practice of insurance companies charging women more because they claim women are "more likely to visit doctors, to get regular checkups, to take prescription drugs, and to have certain chronic illnesses," writes Robert Pear at the New York Times.

But it's no secret that many bros will face higher premiums under ObamaCare. If a bro went to college (even if he spent his days in a kickass frat house playing beer pong all day), he's probably making enough that his premium will cost him more. The average starting salary for a college grad last year was over $42,000, and at least in California, the health insurance plan for someone making over $34,470 goes up post-ObamaCare.

With this extra cost imminent, it's no wonder that pro-ObamaCare groups are focusing so heavily on the brahs.

But are these dude-ilicious ads doing ObamaCare any favors? It's unclear why an ad that looks like a rejected Van Wilder promo would entice twenty-something males to enroll in ObamaCare. Playing to silly stereotypes is ineffective and, frankly, a little insulting. If ObamaCare tried to appeal to young women by showing us drinking cosmos and shoe-shopping, I'd be miffed.

In the past, Obama and Obamcare supporters have made the case for universal health insurance in both intelligent and emotionally moving ways, as well as through strong financial arguments about why it will benefit everyone over time — despite what many a bro might think, life isn't an endless parade of K-Y Jelly wrestling matches with sorority girls but an inexorable trudge toward arthritis and back pain.

So, before ObamaCare supporters start handing out t-shirts saying "YOLO, so enroll in Obamcare" on campuses throughout the country, they might want to dial back the bro-y-ness.

Emily Shire is chief researcher for The Week magazine. She has written about pop culture, religion, and women and gender issues at publications including Slate, The Forward, and Jewcy.

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