Creepy Uncle Sam is baaaaaack? Is He a Koch Brother?

Really? I thought sure Creepy Uncle Sam had been laid to rest, but apparently no such luck. The Republican Anti-Affordable Care Act (ACA) mascot has returned for a Halloween run. Remember him, he is the “Uncle Sam”, that looms over young people who sign up for insurance through the Health Exchanges. (http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/19/creepy-uncle-sam-is-anti-health-care-law-mascot/) In one commercial, a Nurse is heard saying, “Oh, YOU signed up for Obamacare.”  The next scene shows the patient, a young woman, in the doctor’s office with her legs in stirrups, awaiting a gynecological exam, when Creepy Uncle Sam,  who looks remarkably like the stereotypical description of “a dirty old man” suddenly pops up in the examination room and leers at the female patient, speculum in hand.  In the male version of the “Creepy Uncle Sam” commercials, Uncle Sam has medical gloves on and is snapping the gloves.  He seems too interested in a patient’s sex life, and supposedly represents the government being too involved in American’s health care.  The tag reads “Don’t let the Government Control your Health Care.”  Creepy Uncle Sam commercials have drawn much criticism, with some experts even suggesting it minimizes the issue of sexual assault of women.

Just when we thought “Creepy Uncle Sam” was down for the count, he popped back up on our televisions for another round of Anti-ACA ads in the “spirit” of Halloween. (http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/DC-Decoder/Decoder-Wire/2013/1025/Creepy-Uncle-Sam-returns!-Will-Halloween-ad-scare-Millennials-off-Obamacare-video) This ad seeks to suggest that ACA is being shoved down young people’s throats and encourages them to reject the Health Care Exchanges and get their health needs met through other options or at the very least through insurance plans not offered by the exchange. It suggests that young people can find more “cost effective” plans elsewhere.  However, statistics suggest that almost 90% of young people will receive some form of subsidies.( http://finance.fortune.cnn.com/2013/10/21/why-millennials-need-obamacare/) In fact, some young people will be able to purchase health insurance through the Exchanges for about $49.00 a month, which is much less than the average “private” insurance plan available outside the Exchanges. Republicans and Tea Party members seem to leave out the fact that if young people “opt out” of ACA, they will lose the government tax-incentive subsidies.

The “Creepy Uncle Sam” marketing campaign has been relatively popular, but in a “can’t take my eyes off the train wreck” kind of way.  The campaign had about 3.5 millions views on You Tube in September but the “dislikes” far out-weighed the “likes”. ((http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/19/creepy-uncle-sam-is-anti-health-care-law-mascot/) The ad campaign is aimed at young people between the ages of 18 and 30.  It was developed by a marketing company called “Generation Inquiry,” who received a five million dollar contract from “Freedom Partners,” to develop a campaign aimed specifically at young people encouraging them not to participate in ACA.  Freedom Partners is funded by none other than the Koch Brothers. Are you surprised?  Here we go again, with conservative groups, funded by the Koch Brothers and others, this time, trying to take advantage of the website issues associated with signing up for  ACA/Obamacare.  I love the irony of this commercial, keep government out of health care, but “come on down Koch Brothers” and tell us what will be best for our medical needs.  I am pretty sure that “Creepy Uncle Sam” is really the missing lecherous Koch Brother.  I jest, but the sole purpose of this ad campaign is to stop young people from signing up for insurance through the Health Care Exchanges. The success of the Health Exchanges is dependent on people of all ages signing up for the various insurance plans.  Young people, who tend to go to the doctor less often and be in good health are the counter-balance to older enrollees, who may use medical services more often and tend to have more chronic illnesses.  Theoretically, by keeping younger, healthier people from signing up for insurance through the Health Exchanges, Republicans and Tea Party members hope the Affordable Care Act will fail and the costs will be much more than anticipated, so the Republicans can say “told you so” leading up to the 2014 elections and the 2016 presidential elections.

There is some statistical evidence to suggest that since the Health Exchanges opened, some people have become frustrated with what they perceive as their inability to sign up for health insurance through the exchanges and have sought coverage through private companies or exchanges. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/25/us-usa-healthcare-insurers-idUSBRE99O04B20131025) Many times, when these young people contact my partner and I or Navigators they realize they were “duped” and could have qualified for subsidies.  It is important that every young person, in fact anyone who may qualify for ACA give the website “gurus” time to correct the problems.  Perhaps Bill Gates, one of the richest men in the world, said it best in his “picture message.”  (https://scontent-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-frc3/q71/s720x720/1395325_10200210418781672_442422196_n.jpg)  “Healthcare.gov has Fewer Glitches than GOP, Works More Than John Boehner.” ( This photo, if true, makes a significant statement.  I searched the world wide web for several hours and could not find anything to say this statement and photograph has been photo shopped.  Because we pride ourselves on our fact checking, I used the photo and added this disclaimer.) Let’s give the Obama administration some time to work out the glitches, glitches that could have been resolved if the Republicans and Tea Party members had not thrown enormous temper tantrums about the Affordable Care Act and tried to repeal it over 40 times, and shut down the government when they did not get their way for much of October. Had the Administration been able to focus their attention on tweaking the plan we may not be experiencing the difficulties we are now. It’s important to remember that Medicare didn’t work out the application kinks until about two years after it’s inception;( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medicare_(United_States)  )There are still several weeks left before January 1, 2014 and with a little patience people will get signed up for the Exchanges and purchase health insurance in an affordable manner.  Tell “Creepy Uncle Sam” and the Koch Brothers  they are not welcome in our homes, our minds, our health insurance, or our wallets.

About the Authors: By: Barbara J. Cobuzzi, MBA, CPC, CPC-H, CPC-P, CPC-I, CENTC, CPCO and Lynne Smith, MSSW. Barbara is an industrial engineer with an MBA. She worked in the pharmaceutical industry for many years before moving into the healthcare industry where she had a company where she provided top quality coding, compliance and revenue cycle management services for physicians. She has since moved into full time consulting for physicians. Barbara is a nationally known expert known for her education, consulting and expert witness services. Lynne has dedicated her career to helping others. She has experience as a social worker in a rural county, an administrator in a large hospital network and as a College Professor. She uses the skills she developed over the years as an advocate in a variety of areas including her most recent venture serving as a Healthcare Advocate. Together, Lynne and Barbara own the ACA Healthcare Advocates consulting firm and are available to individuals, families and businesses to help them meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act in order to meet the specific needs of the client while optimizing the fiscal considerations.  Please direct your questions and/or inquiries to askcobuzzi@gmail.com.

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