By Jonathan Easley - 01/15/14 09:38 AM EST
Former NBA great Magic Johnson has cut a promotional video for the White House imploring young people to sign up for ObamaCare.
The video, posted on the White House website on Wednesday, comes days after data released by the administration shows it is lagging in its efforts to recruit the number of young people needed to ensure a balanced risk pool keeps premiums from rising.
“Young people think that they’re Superman, like nothing is ever going to happen to them,” Johnson, whose 1991 announcement that he was HIV positive shocked the world. “But trust me — one day something is going to happen, and you’re going to need a quality health plan, so make sure you get ObamaCare.”
The health exchanges were set up under the idea that young and healthy enrollees would balance out older and sicker people on the exchanges.
The Kaiser Family Foundation has said about 40 percent of the enrollees need to be between 18 and 34 years of age for the law to work optimally. Data released on Monday showed, through the end of December, 24 percent of enrollees were in that age group.
The administration said those numbers were a good start, and Kaiser has estimated premiums would only rise modestly if just 25 percent of enrollees end up being in the young adult age group.
Health experts and the administration have said young adults are more likely to put off buying insurance until closer to the March 31 open enrollment deadline.
As a result, the administration's advertising campaign is expected to gear up in the coming weeks.
“Affordable healthcare is important to me because everybody deserves to have good healthcare, and when you think about it, it saved my life,” Johnson said. “And I remember when I took my physical, and they told me that I had HIV over 22 years ago. If it wasn't for the quality healthcare that I had, and the plan that I had, I probably would've been dead.
“No matter how rich, poor, middle class, no matter what color you are, everybody deserves to have good quality healthcare,” Johnson continued. “And what I’m really excited about is the fact that every kid can go get their shots, their check-ups, their physicals. Parents can go get their physicals, because early detection can save people’s lives.”
Shortened versions of Johnson’s direct-to-camera testimonial will run on ESPN, ABC, TNT and other stations, an administration official told The Hill.
— This post was updated at 11:42 a.m.