White House calls on celebs to help pitch Obamacare to youth

Alicia Keys, pictured here performing in Paris, attended a meeting on Obamacare at the White House.
David Wolff | Patrick / Redferns | Getty Images
Alicia Keys, pictured here performing in Paris, attended a meeting on Obamacare at the White House.

Senior White House officials met with a group of Hollywood stars and entertainers Monday to talk about how to use pop culture to persuade young Americans to sign up for new medical coverage this fall.

For President Barack Obama's 2010 health-care reform law to succeed, the White House must attract 2.7 million younger consumers between 18 and 35, mostly male and nonwhite, to participate in online health insurance exchanges.

The president dropped by the meeting, which included comedian Amy Poehler, actor Jennifer Hudson, representatives for Oprah Winfrey and Alicia Keys, and websites Funny or Die and YouTube.

"The reach of these national stars spreads beyond the Beltway to fans of their television shows, movies, and music—and the power of these artists to speak through social media is especially critical," a White House official said.

Obamacare needs young, healthy people to register for the insurance plans to counterbalance older, sicker enrollees and hold down costs. First, though, the government must overcome skepticism that the plans are worthwhile.

The artists are interested in helping explain the health-care law and the sign-up period, which begins Oct. 1, the White House said. They met with Obama senior advisor Valerie Jarrett and other officials involved in the rollout.

Several stars have already begun to publicize the program. Funny or Die, a comedy video website with more than 19 million unique users per month and 6.4 million Twitter followers, is already working on several videos featuring celebrities, according to the White House.

Earlier this year, the administration sought help from major sports organizations, including the National Football League, on advertising campaigns. But Republicans publicly warned the leagues to steer clear of the efforts, and the NFL backed off.

—By Reuters.