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Sexiest Man Alive Embraces Obamacare to Boost Enrollment

Singer Adam Levine
Singer Adam Levine of Maroon 5 performs at the 2013 International CES on January 7, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photographer: David Becker/Getty Images

Dec. 11 (Bloomberg) -- The Sexiest Man Alive is being enlisted to spice up Obamacare.

Pop singer Adam Levine, who won the designation from People magazine last month, is among the celebrities who’ll be promoting enrollment in online health insurance exchanges as part of a social media campaign kicking off tomorrow.

With enrollment totals behind administration projections after the botched start-up of the federal exchange, 17 state exchanges joined by an advocacy group are drawing on Obama administration allies in entertainment and sports to promote sign-ups, using social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

Reprising a tactic President Barack Obama successfully employed in his 2012 re-election, organizers plan to use celebrity promotions and professionally produced videos aimed at inspiring Americans to encourage friends to enroll. The goal is generating 100 million Internet contacts before open enrollment closes March 31.

“The idea is a drumbeat of dialogue, a drumbeat of discussion about coverage -- not about glitches, not about the politics, not about the pundits,” said Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, the state’s insurance exchange, which led organization of the campaign.

The roster includes television star Fran Drescher of “The Nanny,” actor Kal Penn of the “Harold and Kumar” movie series and former Women’s National Basketball Association most valuable player Lisa Leslie, according to the campaign’s organizers, who declined to provide a full list before it gets underway.

Web Videos

Along with daily messages from celebrities, the “Tell a Friend -- Get Covered” campaign will include new web videos and images each week, an eight-hour streamed live event in January and a web page directing people to insurance exchanges and local enrollment assistance, Lee said.

One of the videos being released on the Internet for tomorrow’s kick-off is a rap on health care by Obama impersonator Iman Crosson, who performs under the name Alphacat, he said. Organizers also will promote web sharing of short videos from people who secured health coverage through Obamacare.

Anne Filipic, president of Enroll America, an independent advocacy group that has joined the campaign, said celebrity promotions will primarily function as “a first step to raise awareness.”

Conversation Starter

“We don’t think that, by seeing a tweet, suddenly millions of people will go get coverage,” said Filipic, a former Obama White House aide. “Adam Levine’s tweet helps us begin, and then we can have a substantive conservation about what’s available.”

Through November, 365,000 people signed up for private insurance using federal and state exchanges created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, according to a government report today. Forecasts included in a September internal Obama administration memo later released by congressional Republicans forecast 1.2 million sign-ups by the end of November.

Celebrities including pop singer Lady Gaga and rapper Pharrell Williams promoted healthcare.gov in the days after enrollment began only to pull back as the web site’s flaws surfaced.

In addition to the state exchanges and Enroll America, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency administering the federal website, is involved in the campaign.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mike Dorning in Washington at mdorning@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net

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