Obamacare

Can 65-Year-Old, Sweatin'-to-the-Oldies-Host Richard Simmons Really Get Millennials to Sign Up for Obamacare?

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Last week, Covered California, a group that has received $80 million to promote the Affordable Care Act, hosted a six-hour webathon devoted to getting young people in the Golden State to sign up for Obamacare (currently only about 25 percent of California enrollees are under 35 years old; original estimates called for about 40 percent of enrollees to be 18 to 34 to balance older, sicker patient costs).

Among the segments is the display above which is many things, but relevant to Millennials is not one of them. Watch as 65-year-old diet-and-exercise guru Richard Simmons engages in a dance-off that seems every bit as staged as the Moon landing and Robert Capa's photos.

I like Richard Simmons a lot—he's exactly the sort of strange and wonderful and entrepreneurial character that every free and open society should value. He's a category buster who has managed to help massive numbers of people and he was a good enough sport that he was a regular on the Howard Stern show back in the day.

But anybody who thinks this sort of thing is going to boost enrollment numbers, especially among younger people, is dipping into the medical maryjane again.

Tip: Daniel Kirsner's Twitter feed.

NEXT: Greg Beato on Crowdfunding Democracy

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  1. Isn’t he dead and preserved?

    1. My first thought was similar: “That dude’s still alive?”

      Followed by “Who gives a shit?”

      1. Everybody else on Match Game is dead, why wouldn’t he be?

  2. I don’t know, it might actually work. I can imagine that hipster pajamas guy watching Richard Simmons as an exercise in irony.

  3. WHAT HAS BEEN SEEN CAN NOT BE UNSEEN
    WTF Nick? Why would you post that video?
    Why do you hate your readers?

    1. WHAT HAS BEEN SEEN CAN NOT BE UNSEEN

      Speaking of which…

  4. DON’T TALK SHIT ABOUT RICHARD

    It was hilarious when he would go on Howard’s show. He would usually bring a few of his clients, and Howard and crew would do things like drop trays of ziti in front of them from the ceiling and shit. And Richard was always a good sport.

    1. I always thought it was funny when he’d go on Letterman and hit on him to the point where Dave would chase him around with a fire extinguisher.

      1. Richard has always been pretty entertaining, because he has no compunctions about making fun of himself.

      2. That was pretty funny. Didn’t it get to a point once where Simmons was banned from the show for a while or something?

    2. Dunno if “good sport” really applied with him and Howard. The best appearances usually ended with Richard storming off. 😉

  5. Everytime i’m reminded of how there is a huge fund to “promote” obamacare I want to vomit.

    The fact that the regime can spend money on propoganda promoting the regime is exactly the opposite of what a free country is.

    1. what is this free country that you speak of and where might one be found?

    2. You mean using people’s own money that’s been stolen from them at gunpoint to convince them that they need more money stolen from them at gunpoint to control them isn’t very free? That’s crazy talk!

      1. They’re just stealing our money to help us be more free. They’re freeing the fuck out of us.

        1. “We’re going to free you so hard. Bend over.”

    3. Everytime i’m reminded of how there is a huge fund to “promote” obamacare I want to vomit.

      Meh, I’m ambivalent on that particular of obamacare. It’s advertising; you have to have customers to make a profit on the product. However, it’s my money, and I don’t want to spend it in the first place.

  6. OT: I sincerely hope someone at Reason is going to address Rogers’ and Feinstein’s Meet the Press appearance wherein the accuse Snowden of spying for or getting assistance from Russia PRIOR to leaving the NSA. They’re not providing proof they’re just asking questions because Snowden was too low level (and a high school dropout) to manage his data collection on his own.

    Is Mike Rogers a complete tool for the security services? Why yes, he is. Fantastic oversight there, Mike.

    Also, please, Reason, take apart this TNR hit piece: http://www.newrepublic.com/art…..ey-believe

    If you read the section on Snowden, you’ll learn he disapproved of social security when he was 16 years old and contributed to Ron Paul. The MONSTER. Oh, the humanity.

    1. TEAM BE RULED has to go into overdrive to smear him. He threatened the panopticon, therefore the groveling sychophants in the press must prove their worth to the overlords by going after Snowden as best they can, no matter how contrived and absurd. They don’t care about looking like fools if it makes the masters happy.

      1. No one knows how to grovel worse than TNR as they have practiced doing it since prezzie TR.

    2. He also said he had a gun he liked when he was sixteen.

      There’s also this hilarious section on Greenwald:

      On certain issues, though, his prose was suffused with right-wing conceits and catchphrases. One example was immigration, on which Greenwald then held surprisingly hard-line views. “The parade of evils caused by illegal immigration is widely known,” Greenwald wrote in 2005. The facts, to him, were indisputable: “illegal immigration wreaks havoc economically, socially, and culturally; makes a mockery of the rule of law; and is disgraceful just on basic fairness grounds alone.” Defending the nativist congressman Tom Tancredo from charges of racism, Greenwald wrote of “unmanageably endless hordes of people [who] pour over the border in numbers far too large to assimilate, and who consequently have no need, motivation or ability to assimilate.” Those hordes, Greenwald wrote, posed a threat to “middle-class suburban voters.”

      He refused to agree with me on everything! BURN THE HERETIC!

      It’s especially bad for the left because Greenwald lives in South America so they can’t pretend he’s saying this due to anti-Hispanic animus.

      1. Also, disagreeing with the left on anything is a ‘right-wing’ conceit or ‘catchphrase.’

        No one ever comes to reasonable conclusions that differ from theirs.

        1. If your opponents are always evil and wrong, what possible reason could you ever have to understand, compromise, or respect them?

          Remember that about the TEAMs: by vilifying the other TEAM, they have essentially declared permanent war, because who would compromise with evil?

        2. If you read Greenwald on immigration it’s pretty clear he’s in favor of legal immigration but abhors the illegal kind, not due to a dislike of the hordes, but because of the hypocrisy of system that uses and discards desperate people.

          1. I don’t get around many leftist these days, my workmates are much more apolitical than what is reputed of their class and status, so I would be curious if you said to one, ‘let’s eliminate penalties against employees of undocumented workers. That system after all is the means of immigrant exploitation?’

            I bet you will get mental gymnastics how we need to keep those laws to ensure that those workers aren’t exploited where the cause is glossed over.

        3. Disagreeing with the left is intolerant, and good tolerant people do not tolerate intolerance.

    3. Yes please. Snowden wouldn’t EVEN BE IN RUSSIA if the US hadn’t REVOKED HIS FUCKING PASSPORT.

      He lived in the Moscow airport for a month because he didn’t want to be there.

      And now this asshole tries to use the fact that he got stuck in Russia as evidence that he’s a Russian spy.

      The fucking gall makes me want to shoot Mike Rogers in the face.

      1. Snowden spend 4 months in Hong Kong looking for asylum. Remember the redirected Ecuadorian plane? He would have gone nearly anywhere if the US hadn’t actively prevented it.

        I’d say Mike Rogers needs to be publicly stripped and horse whipped if I didn’t know he’d enjoy it.

        1. Snowden spend 4 months in Hong Kong looking for asylum.

          The anti-Snowden idiots have an answer for this too. I’ve actually heard them say “How could Snowden attack America for civil liberties issues and then seek asylum in Russia or Hong Kong?”

          At first I didn’t get what they were saying. Hong Kong has better freedom of speech protections than Europe does.

          Then I realized that they were just claiming Hong Kong is some kind of tyranny because it happens to be part of China. They’re apparently so dumb that they don’t realize Hong Kong is largely independent, has freedom of speech, and respects civil liberties to a degree greater than the majority of Europe.

          1. “One country, two systems”

            I bet if you said that to them, they would go “huh”? It’s amazing how so many people now have zero embarrassment at being stunningly ignorant. The morons of this would have somehow pulled a hat trick where their being utterly uninformed is no longer a detriment, somehow.

            1. Ah, federalism. One thing we should take China’s lead on….wait what?

    4. Smearing him personally wasn’t working so they need to try to smear him by association.

    5. The leakers and their supporters would never hand the state modern surveillance powers, even if they came wrapped in all sorts of rules and regulations that would constrain their abuse.

      As has been amply demonstrated, rules and regulations do not appear to have constrained abuse of “modern surveillance powers.” So what reasonable cause does anyone have to believe that yet more rules and regulations will protect their rights?

      They are right to worry, but wrong?even paranoid?to distrust democratic governments in this way.

      Yay DEMOCRACY! We are the 51%! Majority rule solves everything!

      Idiot.

      Surveillance and secrecy will never be attractive features of a democratic government, but they are not inimical to it, either.

      The concern is not whether or not it is inimical to the government but to the people.

      1. I’ve started noticing that progs will contradict themselves with unbelievable speed. Yesterday someone posted a politico article about Citizens United that argued we need to bring back ‘democracy’ by having the FCC and other government agencies regulate political speech. So ‘democracy’ now means rule by unelected bureaucrat. Same thing here.

        First:

        They are right to worry, but wrong?even paranoid?to distrust democratic governments in this way.

        Second:

        Surveillance and secrecy will never be attractive features of a democratic government, but they are not inimical to it, either.

        This doesn’t make sense. If something is secret no one can vote on it. Hence, secrecy IS inimical to Democracy because anything that is secret cannot be voted on. Now there are certain times when secrecy is necessary regardless, but to claim that this secrecy is somehow democratic is absurd.

        1. If something is secret no one can vote on it.

          *** rising intonation ***

          What about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court?

          /sarc

        2. Irish, are you suggesting that a learned man like the 1886 Professor of American History at Princeton University wrote something that didn’t make sense?

          Tony will have to scold you severely for questioning your betters when he makes his triumphant appearance.

          But yes, free speech to the statist means that they are free to speak and you are free to listen. You, however, are not free to speak and if they hear you, it is hate speech.

          That is the plain meaning of the First Amendment adapted to our modern, 21st century America.

    6. I guess that’s all we need to know about their position on school choice, even though most of us here in the Reason commentariat know some very smart people who quit high school or were home-schooled. The traditional model just isn’t for everyone.

    7. DRINK!!!!111!11111!!!!

  7. I was thinking Richard looked pretty darned good for a 65 year old guy. When he started dancing I splurted coffee all over my keyboard and burst out laughing. I can’t dance a lick but that would make even me look good by comparison.

    As far as Obamacare pretty much anything they do is just a way to spend money with no or negative results. That’s what politicians do for a living anyway, so why would anyone be surprised they have a dancing gay 65 year old trying to entice 20 year olds to sign up for something that is not in their own best interests? It’s exactly what I would expect.

    Anyone else remember that fried egg ‘this is your brain’ PSA politicians spent millions on? We used to toke up and laugh our butts off at that one too…

    1. Hey, at least that ad featured a young Rachel Leigh Cook, which is more than you can say for pretty much every other PSA ever.

      1. That’s a great one. The Montana Meth commercials were pretty good too.

        1. OMG, those are fabulous. When we lived in Butte, the Libertarian Wife and I would giggle every time we drove past the billboard with the lumberjack-looking dude banging a meth-head teen from behind and wonder which one was paying the $15 for sex.

          1. Links!?

  8. If Richard Simmons can’t convince you to sign up for Barack Obama’s signature legislation, how about Magic Johnson?

    1. “Hi, I’m Magic Johnson, and while I don’t believe in using condoms, I do believe in the benefits of health insurance and coerced economic activity.”

      1. Magic Johnson and Len Baez both share the unfortunate life event of having had bad crack…

        Bazinga!

        1. Len Baez

          Thats spelled so poorly that I was 100% convinced that was a John post.

          1. Before he died, Len Bias had a love-child. She named him Len Baez.

            1. D’oh. “Had a love-child with Joan Baez.”

    2. “Sign up for Obamacare kids, because it’s your patriotic duty to help me pay for my AIDS medication.”

  9. Ahhh, Richard Simmons. Our very first stiffy came from seeing him in those short shorts one afternoon when we were around 12.

    1. Our? Is that the royal we?

  10. What’s amusing to me is the way that commentators openly speak of the importance of getting young people to sign up, because they need their money to help fund the system.

    Which pretty much is an open acknowledgement of the fact that young people are being overcharged relative to their statistical risk. And yet in the same sentence they are trying to sell health insurance to these same people.

    It’s like attempting to sell someone a used car, and admitting upfront that the car isn’t really worth what you’re charging.

    1. frequently, those commentators will also double back and proclaim that young folks are NOT necessary but, rather, a nice to have since, you know, they’ll get sick at some point. Never mind that the pre-existing aspect of O-care eliminates the traditional plan-ahead nature of insurance.

  11. That was… I don’t even… What the fuck? Richard Simmons said he was going to get sick? We’re all getting sick, Richard, because of you.

    The most annoying part might have been the lesbo with the tie on making cheesy remarks about how awesome Obamacare is and shit.

    *barf*

  12. Also, I read an article in Businessweek and Frobes the other day that had an interesting thesis.

    Apparently the “risk corridors” mechanism actively disincentivizes insurers from signing up younger people, because they will automatically be compensated if they have an older mix of insured. Any companies that have more younger people will be forced to make transfer payments to companies that have a lot of older people. Thus, there is no profit to be made by specially targeting young people in ads. And since older people are more likely to sign up and spend money, you’re going to get a net larger total of enrollees by targeting the elderly.

    My guess is that the Gene Simmons thing is actually covertly marketing to older people. They just have to *pretend* they are targeting the young, because that’s what HHS wants them to do. They are making a good faith effort to pretend they are trying to recruit young people, but what they are really trying to do is maximize enrollments so they can get bigger transfer payments through the risk corridors.

    1. A commercial with GENE Simmons would’ve hit closer to the mark.

    2. My guess is that the Gene Simmons thing is actually covertly marketing to older people.

      First of all, it’s Richard Simmons. Have some respect for a legend.

      They are making a good faith effort to pretend they are trying to recruit young people, but what they are really trying to do is maximize enrollments so they can get bigger transfer payments through the risk corridors.

      I disagree. The Get Covered telethon thing was put out by the federal government. The feds want young people to sign up and don’t much care about the insurance companies’ transfer payments.

      I think a really old guy working for the federal government just had no idea what he was doing and booked a really bizarre telethon.

      1. I think a really old guy working for the federal government just had no idea what he was doing and booked a really bizarre telethon.

        That and in all likelyhood the only young people the old guy in charge knew were vaguely homosexual (NTTAWWT) hipsters who would actually enjoy watching Richard Simmons crawl around on the floor and some other dude “dance” as if he’s having some kind of coke fueled seizure while a short haired woman in a tie interjects comments about how awesome health insurance coverage is. Because what kind of young person would willingly work for the federal government in the Obamacare propoganda department? That’s right, hipsters.

      2. Gene Simmons may be a legend, but I don’t think he deserves a whole lot of respect.

        1. He gets my respect for marrying Shannon Tweed.

          And some other things, but mostly for Shannon Tweed.

    3. So, what Forbes was saying was that the insurers agreed to participate in Obamacare because it was for them win/win?

      Get robust enrollment with a good demo mix – get a profitable program?

      Get crappy enrollment with a poor demo mix – get a bailout?

      I’m shocked, shocked to find rent seeking in a government program!

    4. If you gave one million monkeys one million typewriters, eventually, they’d bang out Obamacare. My g-d what a cluster-fuck.

      1. As I like saying, it’s not the Hindenburg or the Titanic, it’s the Hindenburg crashing into the Titanic, in slow motion. What was the last federal domestic program that was this big of a trainwreck? I can’t think of one.

        1. Vietnam?

          And this one will surely kill more Americans.

          1. That’s why I said “domestic,” to get wars out of it.

  13. Speaking of old legends, I watched the History of Future Folk (where Dee Snider plays the guy who owns a dive bar).

    It was a cute movie, and Dee Snider was entertaining.

    That is all.

    1. I’m going to watch that right now. I was wondering if it was good. Thanks for the heads up, tarran.

  14. Release the robotic Richard Simmons!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fKPzz_TZeXs

  15. Wasn’t it news a couple of months ago when Richard Simmons tried to participate in Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign, and was unceremoniously rejected by the administration? I believe there was even a blog post about it here.

    Now they want him to help push Obamacare? They must be getting pretty desperate.

  16. What’s an oldie?

  17. OK wow man that dude knows what he is talking about.

    http://www.Anon-VPN.com

  18. I like Richard Simmons a lot – he’s exactly the sort of strange and wonderful and entrepreneurial character that every free and open society should value. He’s a category buster who has managed to help massive numbers of people and he was a good enough sport that he was a regular on the Howard Stern show back in the day.

    His association with this administration and its retarded health insurance agenda taints Richard Simmons, not the other way around. Simmons has remarkable awareness of his public perception and has exploited it fully for his own gain. Hat’s off to him.

    1. Agreed. He’s one of the few people about whom you can say “he has no sense of shame” in a non-derogatory manner.

      By all accounts, he’s a decent guy, has a good sense of humor about himself, and has actually managed to stay somewhat relevant in an era when the media machine chews up similar characters and spits them out with regularity. The fact that guys like Letterman, Leno, etc. are still willing to indulge his guest appearances after all these years says quite a bit about his professional reputation.

  19. How come Monty Rushmore wasn’t hosting this?

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