What President Obama's Hilarious Appearance On Between Two Ferns Teaches Us About Obamacare

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Omid Malekan via OmidMalekan.com,

Present Obama’s viral interview on Zack Galifianakis “Between Two Ferns” was both funny and informative, thus deserving the buzz it generated. To his credit the President has consistently shown an ability to engage his electorate at their own level via their preferred media, a nice change from his predecessors who would complain about the lack of engagement in politics but not do anything about it. Both the content of the interview, and the fact that the President felt it was needed in the first place, can teach us about the current state of Obamacare and the problems it continues to have.

Critics of the interview have focused on the President’s line that young people  ”can get coverage all for what it costs you to pay your cell phone bill.” This line, which the President often uses, is hard to substantiate. It contradicts the Obama administration’s own figures that “a 27-year-old with income of $25,000 will be able to get such coverage for $145 a month.” Verizon is generally believed to be the costliest wireless provider, and a single line plan with unlimited voice and texting and 2GB of data costs $75 a month (a figure that generally lines up with national cell phone billing data). If you want to do your own research, the Kaiser Family Foundation has a handy calculator that lets you enter your age, state and income level, and get an estimate for the monthly cost of enrollment. Play around with it and you’ll see the President’s math is hard to justify.

The point here isn’t to nitpick the numbers or get into a semantic argument, but to show one of the key shortcomings of this appearance and the President’s other attempts at getting young people to sign up: if you are promoting something that has shaky credibility, and you use dubious arguments that your target audience will realize might not be true, you end up hurting your cause.

Even more revealing than the content of the interview is the fact that the Administration felt a need for it in the first place. As you have probably heard, Obamacare has not enrolled enough young people. That is why the President has dispatched his wife to promote it on Jimmy Fallon, enrolled celebrities that appeal to young people (including a former member of N’Sync) and made appearances such as ‘Between Two Ferns’. The question nobody asks is why young people haven’t signed up.

Nobody needs to tell young people to buy a cell phone, or to go to college, despite the hefty cost. So why do we need to keep trying to convince them to sign up for Obamacare? The answer, which virtually all of the supporters of the ACA have admitted at one point or another, is because Obamacare is a bad deal for young people. We know that because the system was designed to force young and healthy people, who seldom seek medical treatment, to sign up or face penalties.  If something is a good deal, like having an iPhone or getting a college degree, young people spend their money on it voluntarily. You only need a  a penalty for not buying something when its a bad deal.

But don’t take my word for it, just look at the arguments made by the law’s proponents. The whole idea of insurance is that a group of people put money into a pool, and those that need it take it out. If a specific group is expected to put in more than they’ll take out, that insurance is a bad deal for them.

Google “Obamacare needs young people” and you’ll see 90 million results, including all sorts of smart people effectively admitting that Obamacare is a bad deal for the young and healthy. You’ll find reports like this one on CNN explaining how Obamacare needs all these young people to put money in then not take any out. You’ll even find Bill Clinton (with Barack Obama at his side) saying “this only works..if young people show up..we gotta have them in the pools.” Even the President himself,  during the interview with Galifianakis, says this about young people: ”if they get that health insurance they can really make a big difference.” You buying insurance “making a difference” for someone else means its a bad deal for you, as you are both taking money out of the same pool.

Some argue that young people should sign up anyway, because if something catastrophic happens to them then the insurance will save them lots of money. Again here Obamacare defeats itself. Since the President keeps telling young people that they can still sign up for Obamacare even if they have a pre-existing condition, then they might as well not sign up today while they are still healthy and wait until after something goes wrong.

To summarize the problem in the same lingo that the President and Galifianakis bantered in, lets say you are the kind of person that always takes beers to a party. Lets also say that a bunch of people really want you to go to a specific party, but you find out that the only reason they invited you in the first place is because you bring more beer than you drink, and if you don’t show up the guys that drink lots of beer but don’t bring any won’t have as much fun. Might you then decide not to go to this party, and just stay home and watch Funny or Die videos by your favorite comedian?

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PlusTic's picture

stick a fork in him, this puppet is done...

Pool Shark's picture



"Present Obama’s viral interview...."

Yes, indeed. He is the Gift that goes on giving...



nope-1004's picture

Obama vs a TV host, and he still loses?  So wonder what the outcome will be for Community Organizer vs KGB Agent?


Keyser's picture

I about spit the dummy when asked what his thoughts were on being the last black POTUS. Priceless.

chumbawamba's picture

Yep.  That's about as close to "nigger" as it gets.  Heheheh.

I am Chumbawamba.

weburke's picture

it should be part of every analysis of obamacare that the aca website is so open that anyone can get your data you type in to obamacare...and they do not have to break any law doing it. the data is accessable without anyone commiting a crime. The web site is that badly designed. THAT is why congress freaked and hired  a new company. it is still not fixed. those that know refuse to sign up for that reason alone. no need to offer up another reason not to join. it is like asking for identity theft.

FEDbuster's picture

The "kids" are staying on Mom and Dad's plan till they turn 27.

Why didn't Zack just whip him like he did Justin Beiber? 


Manthong's picture

Well, at least he probably got the ferns signed up.. even though they have more intelligence than the average  slug walking the streets.

European American's picture

The "Fern" covered his teleprompter.

palmereldritch's picture

Who ever booked him on this and thought it was a good idea has got to be looking for a new job by now...lol...the rather obvious joke is that, after accounting for Zach's character, the guest is considered the second fern.

BKbroiler's picture

I signed up a few months back, paying $300/month.  Never had/needed health insurance, but for me it's really just home insurance.  If I were to get into an accident and get hit with a giant medical bill, the hospital would bankrupt me and try to take my largest asset, my house.  Pretty sad state of affairs...  sign up or lose it all if you get hurt.  nice f'n system.

Buckaroo Banzai's picture

Seriously? You actually found your way to ZH, but are still too stupid to put the puzzle together regarding OzeroCare?

BKbroiler's picture

Please, enlighten me as to what I'm missing.  It was the best option for the price.  I pay $300/month including $11 for the dental care.  Just had x-rays, cleaning and check up done today for $36 out of pocket.  So kiss my ass.  I "found my way" to ZH a long time ago.

lunaticfringe's picture

I negotiated the very same 30 mins. of work for 100 cash. That is 1/4 of one mo's premium- deep thinker.

BKbroiler's picture

I negotiated the very same 30 mins. of work for 100 cash

bullshit.  and you happened to have the same work done, recently, and just happened to see my post today?  you are a lying little troll.  Any dentist would rather take the $36 from the patient and charge a couple hundred to the insurance company than get $100 cash.  If you're going to lie at least try harder.

Rapada's picture

Trust me, the dentist is not getting $200 from the insurance company - he is more likely getting $50 - which makes the other deal better for the dentist and the patient.

BKbroiler's picture

does anybody on this site check facts before spitting them out?  You think the dentist only billed insurance for $50 for cleaning and full x-rays?  Can I have your dealers number because I want whatever it is you're smoking (now that I'm covered, what the hell).  They don't even write bills for less than a few hundred.  Doctors found out a long time ago that the real cash cow isn't the patient, it's the insurance company.

PAWNMAN's picture

Been paying my doctor in cash for years now. We both prefer it that way.

GotGalt's picture

Dentists/doctors can bill the insurance company for whatever amount they want.  That does not mean the insurance company will pay it!  I had Delta dental through work, and I would always receive a paper invoice for work done.  It would label the billed charge for each service along with what Delta dental actually paid the dentist.  The Delta payment was WAY less than the billed for amount.  It got to the point where the dentist would turn around and bill me for part of the unpaid amount. 

weburke's picture

the problem for you now, is that your information you typed into obamacare, is public accessable. check the reports that came to congress and showed that -WITHOUT breaking into the website- as THAT would be illegal, if was proven that the information people type into the A C A web is totally accessable without breaking a law. that is why congress finally freaked and hired a new company. it is still not fixed, which is why a lot of folks wont sign up.

CognacAndMencken's picture


Keep in mind that you're talking to a bunch of backwater hillbillies who want the world to burn. These guys HATE everything except guns, beans and shiny metal tokens. The reason the guy above you got his dental work done for nothing is because he only has one tooth. In backwater Amuuuurica, many "dentists" and "doctors" exchange their "services" for chickens, eggs, bags of rocks, etc. Anything post-Civil War is pretty much lost on these Luddites.

forexskin's picture

maaannn, yur some kina smurt. why didncha say how we's all so like to say squeel lika pig or sumfin? aaah i knows, yur afreid that we unta git it. you spill trull same's usns?

BlissPoint's picture

I believe him. I am uninsured and I pay $140/yr for my dentist's "discount plan." I just had your exact same service (x-rays, cleaning, check-up) for $30. (140+30)/2 = $85 each for my two appointments each year.

-NaN-'s picture

Wrong, my dentist gives me a discount for paying cash with no insurance.  It saves his adminstrative staff a ton of time dealing with insurance companies. I opted out of dental insurance once I did the math.  $150 a month for Denal and vision (only packaged together at my place of work even if you dont need vision).  Cleanings, annual checkups with xrays are WAY cheaper without paying the monthly, and now I get a discount.  My dentist hate insurance companies too, WIN, WIN.

A Nanny Moose's picture

What would the cash cost have been? What else are you getting for that $300/mo? Security? Carrots and sticks?

BKbroiler's picture

I get to not lose my house if I get into an accident.  Maybe you missed the first 2 posts.

A Nanny Moose's picture

So I was right. You think you are getting a little security. You risk losing your house, not because of the accident, but because government has been fucking around in healthcare for over 100 years, which has driving prices up faster than inflation. You are concerned about losing your house because you paid more than it is worth, because government has been fucking around in real estate, and debasing the currency. You think running to the government is going to save you? Guess again, sunshine.

If your house is such a burden, why not simple sell it, and rent?

BKbroiler's picture

You're really good at making things up:

you are concerned about losing your house because you paid more than it is worth

My house is paid off. It's worth 50% more than I paid.  Not to punch a hole in your stereotype.  I don't want the government to save me.  The health care system in this country is fucked, total blackmail.  Now that catastrophic insurance isn't an option you have to protect your assets.  My house isn't a burden, and renting is for suckers.

CCanuck's picture

How much property tax (rent) do you pay sucka?

CognacAndMencken's picture

I'm betting that he probably pays a lot more in property taxes than you pay in trailer park dues. At least his house can't get a flat tire..... How much do 4 new tires on your house cost?

Uncle Sugar's picture

You should go back to the MSNBC site. You're obviously not happy here.

A Nanny Moose's picture

My house is paid off.

No it isn't. You simply rent it from the government, which WILL take your home for any number of reasons....and government has all the guns. If keeping your home is the grand plan, I suppose you are safe until you are elegible for Medicare because government now reserves the right...and it has all the guns.

How many people again, have lost their homes due to medical catastrophies? Did they become homeless? Are they living on the streets and dumpster diving?

One does not starve the beat by feeding it.

CognacAndMencken's picture

I find hillbilly libertarians hilariously fascinating. You guys would rather live in hillbilly shacks just so you don't have to pay property taxes. *LOL*

Guubbermint got all the guns...... guubbermint gonna get me......

forexskin's picture

shur glad we git sombudy smurt studiein us - now show me agin how smurt y'all ar...

don min me, jus feeding the TRULL

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

You'd rather pay forever to "own" a thing, when that's really called renting.

I don't rent a chair, a fridge, a stove, a bed, all while pretending I own them. Ownership means one payment & done.

You're not owning, you're renting and renting is expensive.

It's better to own a thing and not pay for eternity, with the ability for someone else to steal.

If there was no legal basis for being able to steal your house for non-payment of super-increasing taxes you can't ever stop the increase of theft... why would you validate, morally accept, theft? And call it "ownership" ?

weburke's picture

yes, you are protected. 6000. there are many parts that are bad news, but you are under that protection you identified. however, you are likely to face identity theft issues. 

-NaN-'s picture

50% more than when you bought it?  Are you including, interest, taxes insurnance and maintenance?  When my house is paid off, with a less than 4% interest rate over 30 years, I will pay OVER 200% the original cost of the house. Now throw on the other expenses ........

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

Renting is paying property taxes. Renting is for suckers but "owning" a house in America is renting.

Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Have you read in depth what that policy covers including caps? My dentist could no way operate his office on so little. Have you checked what other costs would be such as a crown or root canals? I pay the same for cleaning but my insurance covers the most of the cost for preventative care. Anything else it covers barely 30%. We use our HRA mostly for dental.


BKbroiler's picture

At least the ladies here still have some class, hey Miffed.   I asked them to get me a quote on that for my next visit (which will also be $36 for these cavities).  If they ask for too much I'll probably got to my favorite dentist in Dominican Republic like I used to and soak up a few rays in the meantime.   I have always done most of my medical care abroad, the main idea with O-care is not getting some catastrophic bill, there are ways around the rest.  I can't exactly go abroad if I get hit by a car.

-NaN-'s picture

All ObummerCare did was force you into a contract with the same crooked companies that were gouging us all in the first place.  

caustixoid's picture

'I'm a lonely paid intern that has to find references to Obamacare in blogs, and put in posts pretending to be a real person who loves Obamacare.  It's a soulless job, but the little personal touches I put give me enough satisfaction to stop from killing myself.   For example I swore on ZeroHedge.   I'm actually paid, to swear!  Well now it's onto an NRA blog to pump Obamacare: "lock and load, sign up and be covered if the criminal gets a shot into you before you blow his f'n head off!"  See, personal touch'

BKbroiler's picture

oh that was cute... nope just a little bit of reality, nothing to concern yourself with.  Once I paid off my house I decided that I'd rather pay $300 a month than risk losing it over some accident.  This might be hard to comprehend for you and the rest of the rabid right but this isn't about politics, it's a pragmatic decision.  And I've been on here longer than you have, tool.  Not everyone on this site is a teabagger, it was actually pretty interesting here until Rush Limbaugh mentioned it a few years back and the idiot parade took over.

caustixoid's picture

ouch.  I've been schooled.  I see you've been here pre-Obamacare, so apologies for implying you're an Obamacare troll.   Still your paragraph did sound like an infomercial.

BKbroiler's picture

I could give a shit which team is selling it.  I looked for health insurance and this was the best deal.  And I used to chain smoke, which for these goddamn vampires counts as a pre-existing condition that they can charge you more for having.  And props for the apology, sorry I called you a tool.

plane jain's picture

Seems to be a general lack of reasoning skills in this thread.  Plans on the exchanges are a fair to good deal for some, a lousy deal for others.  Kind of like choosing a degree and a college, YMMV.  

So while I generally think the Affordable Care Act was a POS giveaway to the health insurance industry and the wrong "fix" for our broken down healthcare system, that doesn't mean that all the plans on the exchanges are overpriced crap.

Insurance through my husband's last employer was a bad deal; high premium, high deductible, high OOP cap for a family.  Not so bad for the individual employee, so he was insured and my daughter and I were not.

Insurance with the current employer is better, so this time we are all signed up.

I checked out the calculator in the article.  In 2006 when I was carrying the health insurance for my family through my employer it was $800 a month ($9600 a year) for the three of us.  Per the calculator we would pay about $5500 for a silver plan on the exchange based on my husband's salary/no subsidy.

If you want health insurance check out your options and see if there is a reasonable choice available.  If you don't want it, fine by me.

BKbroiler's picture

give me a hint so I can save some time.  What does "The Civil Libertarian" think about Obamacare?  Does it love Obamacare?  That's my guess, because I can tell you do.