Remember Pajama Boy? He’s a year and a half old now. He was supposed to help the Affordable Care Act drum up enrollments among twenty-somethings early in 2014. You remember the ad now, don’t you?
Let’s consider Pajama Boy’s practicalities. He is home for Christmas. We can’t tell if he’s in college or not, or for how much of the year he lives at home. He looks to me like he’s in his twenties, but it’s hard to tell how close to his mid-twenties he is. His age is significant, because the ACA says that his parents’ health insurance is supposed to cover him until he is twenty-six. That means he is okay while he is twenty-five, but on his twenty-sixth birthday this ageless man-boy has to do for himself.
The ad instructs its audience, boldly, to “Talk about getting health insurance.” Who would he talk to about getting health insurance at home, at Christmas time, if not his parents? Why would he want to talk to his parents about getting health insurance? To ask them if they can help him pay for it! How do you persuade your parents to chip in for a big ticket like that? Dress in your onesie PJs and carry around a cup of hot chocolate, to remind them of when you were their little boy!
So even after this guy is twenty-six, he needs to ask for his parents’ help to pay for health insurance, because who can afford to pay that much on a twenty-six-year-old’s pay? Why does Pajama Boy have to pay so much for health insurance when he’s just starting out? Because his premiums cover care for his grandparents, and for all his friends’ grandparents! He and most of his friends have four grandparents. That’s a lot of health care bills. So no wonder the White House ad people tell him to #GetTalking at Christmas time.
Only a generation ago, men in their mid-twenties dressed in their best rented clothes, to watch their bride walk toward them as they stood at the front of a church. They and their spouses had plans about careers, children, where they would live, the adventures they would have during a long and productive life. The natural but difficult process of establishing independence from their parents had ended at last.
When Congress passes a health care bill that results in an ad like that, you start to think young men depend on their parents until – when? I wonder how many twenty-five-year-old Pajama Boys put on a little onesie to talk with their parents about forking over assistance for health insurance every month, because dependent coverage on their parents’ plan would run out soon? After depending on my parents for college money, lodging, food and health insurance for twenty-five years, now I have to talk with them about more subsidies? What a prospect! Where are my PJs?