The “Secretary of Explaining Stuff” Will Begin Promoting Obamacare

Bill Clinton has agreed to help the Obama administration explain health care reform to the American people. Giving the amount of misinformation polluting our airwaves, the former president could be a huge help.

Clinton is a master of talking to the public one-on-one (“Now listen to me here, this is important”), rattling off facts without losing his audience, explaining what’s fair and what isn’t (“and I think you think so too”), sounding for all the world like Jimmy Stewart playing a country lawyer,

As White House aide Dan Pfeiffer pointed out on Twitter while the welcoming the former president to the team, Clinton is “the Secretary of Explaining Stuff.”

Think about it: the majority of uninsured 18-34 year olds are minorities. (I will be explaining why in my next post.)  These are the generally healthy young adults we need in the Exchanges in order to keep premiums down. Who do you think they will listen to: John Boehner, Avik Roy, Douglas Holtz-Eakin or Bill Clinton?

Since he left office in January 2001, Clinton’s popularity has soared. Last year, a Gallup poll revealed that about 70 percent of Americans view the former president favorably  with young adult among his biggest fans.



18 thoughts on “The “Secretary of Explaining Stuff” Will Begin Promoting Obamacare

  1. This is good news. Clinton can get the ideas across well, and get buy in from these groups at a critical time.

    It’s also a great set up for the 2014 election, since the exchanges will have been going into place and people will start to see how Obamacare helps them.

    I’m sure they’ll be some sticker shock in some parts of the country; especially where rates are low (they’ll go up), and where rates are obscenely high (they’ll come down). But once implemented, maybe we can get away from the endless symbolic repeal votes and actually get Congress to do something . . . like fixing the debt ceiling.

    I can hope, can’t I?

    • Panacea–

      Yes, I think this is fabulous news about Clinton.

      I can’t think of anyone who would be better at explain reform.

      Most of the uninsured young people who we need in the Exchange pool in order to keep prices down (while also providing them with free preventive care and
      protecting them against the risk of suddenly becoming sick or badly hurt in an accident) are minorities.
      (Obamacare has already helped millions of white 20-somethings by letting them sign on to their parent’s employer-sponsored coverage a couple of years ago. Fewer African-American and Latino parents have employer-sponsored insurance. So their 20-somethings remain uninsured (and in many cases, unemployed.)

      These are the people who need to understand the Exchanges and sign up. The vast majority (some 97% of uninsured 20-somethings of all colors) will be eligible for subsidies. Those subsidies will make insurance surprisingly affordable. (I’ll be posting about this soon.)

      When they find out how much Obamacare will help them, they will be pleased. And, as you say this will be a great set up for the election: it will strengthen their loyalty to the Democrats.

      Re: Congress doing something . . . . we’ll have to wait and see.

  2. Great post! I believe educating the public about Obamacare in “black and white” format will help many understand what it all entails and at them same time learn how they can benefit from it.
    Like you stated, a large group of young people lack health insurance and if they become informed of available options, they will be in a position to find the right package for themselves.
    Thank you

    • Geff–

      Thanks very much.

      Yes, I think that as these young people become aware of the subsidies, they will be eager to buy insurance in the Exchanges.

      Republicans are now suggesting that we delay opening the Exchanges for another year. This really don’t understand young Americans– particularly minorities. Polling shows only 3% say they don’t need insurance. The vast majority of uninsured 20-somethigns say they don’t have it because they cannot afford it. 97% of uninsured 20-somethigns will qualify for subsidies. These will make coverage affordable.

  3. It’s great news that President Clinton has joined the cause and will begin helping explain this to our youth. His voice is powerful and this issue is extremely important. When it comes to topics that don’t catch the interest of most young people, you need to bring in a voice that they clearly trust & respect and President Clinton is just the man for the job.

    • Lance–

      Thanks much for your comment.

      Yes, Clinton it just the person to explain this to young Americans.

  4. I understand the desire to have young persons sign up for the Exchanges — otherwise the Exchange might eventually become a high risk pool. And virtually no one, federal or state, has shown much willingness to fund high risk pools so that they are stable and affordable.

    However the Exchanges are not always so cheap for the young. According to the KFF calculator, a 30 year old making $30,000 would have to pay $2,512 out of his own pocket for a Silver plan, or $1,995 for a Bronze plan.

    When you are making $30,000, then your take home pay is probably about $2200-$2400 a month in a high tax state. (I am just guessing at this.)

    $209 a month for a Silver plan is a stretch. More so for young men, because as a group they see doctors very seldom. It is probably a better deal for a young woman.

    Were it up to me, the 30 year old would have a much higher subsidy, and it would be paid for by higher income taxes on anyone with a high income, young or old.

    • Bob–

      It’s good to hear from you

      I appreciate the fact that you often disagree with me because that forces me to do more research and spell out the facts about Obamacare in greater detail.

      Once again, I’m afraid your numbers are wrong. (IF you read the note to the Kaiser calculator, you would know they were giving national averages and they could not
      take subsidies into account because they did not know what Silver Plans in various area would actually cost in 2014. (Silver Plan premiums determine the size of subsidies I have explained that here on HIO.

      There will also be subsidies that will cut co-pays & deductibles for low-income an middle-income Americans.
      Please see my answer to Frequently Asked Questions here on

      I will be writing more about this on HealthBeat very soon. More and more states are announcing actual rates, and this gives me the info I need to give you real numbers.

      Finally, Bob, I very much appreciate your comments because they alert me to what many very intelligent people who know quite a bit about health ihsurancee don’t know about Obamacare. That tells me what I need to write about.



  5. Thanks Maggie for your notes.

    The KFF calculator did say that the 30 year old would receive a subsidy of $507. The $2512 or $1995 would be his responsibility after the subsidy, since that ties into 8.37% of his income.

    I know that plans on the exchange will offer free preventive care and that co-pays will be limited.

    I like the exchanges a lot. But I am still uncomfortable with a program that in effect taxes young workers who are not well off at all.

    I also support Social Security, but I have felt for a long time that the payroll tax should exempt the first $20,000 of wages. To make up for this loss of revenue, the ceiling for payroll taxes should be a lot higher than $108,500.

    • Bob–

      The Kaiser Foundation Calculator is out of date. They created it before any of the states
      had announced rates. So they were not able to accuately calculate subsidies because subsidies are based on the actual cost of the 2nd least expensive Silver plan in any given market.

      You have to know what that premium is to figure out the subsidy.

      In addition, they are using their estimates of “national averages” as to what a Bronze or Silver plan will cost a person of a certain age with a certain income.

      Now that many states have announced actual rates, we are finding that they are significantly lower than expected.

      For instance, in L.A. if a 30 year-old earning $30,000 receives a subsidy of $507, he could buy a Bronze plan (which covers everything a Silver plan covers) for just $1341 a year–not the $1902 you suggest.

      In New York City (the most expensive insurance market in the nation for young people because we don’t let insurers charge older people more), he woudl recieve a subsdiy of $2190 (because the benchmark silver plan that determines the subsidy is quite expensive.

      He could then take that $2190 subsidy and purchase a Bronze plan for $1506 a year.

      Can he afford $1506? Yes.

      Bob, I think you’re out-of-touch with how well a 30-year-old who earns $30,000 a year is doing. He earns more than roughly 70% of Americans in his cohort ( 21-30)

      You’re looking at $30,000 a year from the perspective of a 40-something.

      A 30-year-old male with that income is likely to be single and living in an urban area where he spends far less on rent/mortgage than a 40-year old would

      (I know this because my kids are roughly that age, one in NYC).

      He probably lives in a small apt. in a part of the city that is not a middle-class family neighborhood. His neighborhood is more commercial, surrounded by bars and restaurants
      with a decent night life. (This is where he wants to be Very likely he shares the apt with someone (a girlfriend). That cuts his rent in half. Depending on the city he lives in and the public transportation, he may or may not need a car. (A 40-year old with kids does)
      The 30-year-old earning $30,000 spends much of his paycheck on eating out, ordering in, etc. He’s not yet worried about saving–he spends most of his paycheck every month.

      This is why he can afford to spend $100 to $132 a month for health insurance in two of the most expensive cities in the nation. He no doubt spends well more than that each month for beer, pizza, drinks with friends at local bars, and ordering in junk food. If he cooked dinner 1 or 2 nights a week, he could save enough to cover the premium (This is just one of many ways to economize–my point is only that he can afford $100 a month.) .

      And when you look at the actual rates in most of the country, after his subsidy he is likely to be paying somewhere between $40 and $80 a month for insurance. .

      I have written a post looking at actual rates for young adults and will be posting here on HealthBeat this evening.

      PLEASE Stop using and quoting the KAISER CALCULATOR. You wind up spreading misinformation.

  6. This makes the public discourse a little scary.

    The right wingers pretend that subsidies do not exist, as this serves their rhetoric against the ACA.

    And I thought I was at least bringing some reality to the discussion by using an online calculator.

    Turns out I was using an outdated calculator!

    It sounds like every review or comment about the ACA really has to wait until year end.

    • Bob–

      No, we don’t have to wait until the end of the years. There is much good, specific updated information available.

      Many states have announced rates in specific markets.

      See my newest post– it links to a longer post on where I spell out what
      insurance will cost a young adult in New York City, Washington D.C. Portland Oregon,
      Rochester N.Y., Denver Colorado, Sacramento and Los Angeles.

      Next week, I’ll have the information to spell out rates and subsides for people in the state of Washington,
      Maryland, Vermont and perhaps as many as 5 other states. More and more states are making annoucements.

      Comments about the ACA do not have to wait until year end. We can now begin to discuss actual rates–after applying subsidies.

      We can also comment on who well efforts to “Enroll America” are or are not doing. . .

      Yes, the conservatives will pretend subsidies don’t exist but as more and more people write about actual subsidies and costs in
      specific cities, more and more people will realize that they are simply lying.

      Bill Clinton will be very good at making that clear.

      And Kaiser (or someone else) will come out with an up-to-date online calculator

      That calculator will ask youthe of the benchmark (second least expensive) Silver Plan in your area .
      You can get that information from your State Exchange if it is not already online.
      Fill in the cost of the Benchmark plan, the rate that your state marketplace has announced for the plan you
      want to buy, your age and your income and you will find out exactly how much it will cost, and exactly how much of a subsidy you will receive (assuming you qualify for a subsidy)

  7. Pingback: Angry Bear » Kaiser Foundation Calculator Out of Date