Short on Beer Money? Look to Obamacare

Short on Beer Money? Look to Obamacare

By Heather Wilhelm - October 23, 2013


So, I don’t want to jinx anything, but when it comes to the ridiculousness surrounding the much-ballyhooed Obamacare rollout/circus/tragicomedy/Exxon-Valdez-meets-the-Titanic-meets-the-Edmund-Fitzgerald level of disaster, I think we’re close to hitting bottom.

At least I hope so, because it’s getting surreal out there.

On Tuesday, the wondrous powers of Twitter unearthed the “Thanks Obamacare” ad campaign, created by the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative and a group called ProgressNow Colorado Education. The campaign features various demographic-targeted ads trumpeting the greatness of Obamacare, a tactic which, in terms of both marketing and propaganda, is totally normal. What is not normal, however, is that one of the targeted demographics is a group widely known as “bros.”

A “bro,” to be brief, is basically a beer-drinking frat guy. If you go to Buffalo Wild Wings on NFL game day, you will see a lot of bros. Baseball hats and flip-flops are good identifying markers. If you venture into an actual fraternity party, you will have the opportunity to see bros in their native habitat—and if you start talking about your 600-page Women’s Studies graduate thesis on the internal pathos of Sylvia Plath, you’ll likely witness said bros scattering like a pack of skittish, wild-eyed Serengeti wildebeests. They shall flee with thundering hooves. They shall dash away with the lightning speed of a non-Obamacare website that actually works.

Interestingly, “bros” last hit the national spotlight in the wake of June’s Texas abortion law controversy, when Ben Sherman, an apparent member of the “Bro-Choice” movement, wrote a blog post arguing that men had a better chance of having fun-filled, no-consequence sex if they supported abortion. The reason? “Can you think of anything that kills the vibe faster than a woman fearing a back-alley abortion?” Right on, Ben! Who says chivalry is dead?

The “Thanks Obamacare” campaign, amazingly enough, somehow manages to ratchet up the crazy. The campaign’s “bro-oriented” ad—lovingly nestled between others targeting nervous expectant mothers, cool dads who kayak on dangerous rivers, and deep-in-thought guys who are about to accidentally hit their best friends in the face with golf clubs—features two clueless-looking young men clutching “party” red Solo cups, with a third “bro” attempting a keg stand (Bro No. 3, as an aside, looks about 48, but Obamacare doesn’t really care how long you take out student loans, I guess). Here is the text of the ad:

TOP OF THE PAGE, IN THE SAME FONT AS THAT FAMOUS MILK AD: “Got insurance?” SIDE OF THE PAGE: “Brosurance. Keg stands are crazy. Not having health insurance is crazier. Don’t tap into your beer money to pay those medical bills. We got it covered. Now you can too. Thanks Obamacare!”

At first, I thought this must be a parody—a clever, subversive, maybe even Koch Brothers-funded illustration of the utter, embarrassing dumbness of Obamacare. I mean, really, is there any better summation of the folly of the welfare state than “Don’t tap into your beer money to pay those medical bills?”

The only recent contender I can think of came from Cindy Vinson, an Obamacare supporter who, shocked at her brand-new insurance rate increase, told the San Jose Mercury News: “Of course, I want people to have health care, I just didn’t realize I would be the one who was going to pay for it personally.”

But, alas for us all, I went to the “Thanks Obamacare” campaign’s grammar-challenged website (which is, no joke, and it appears to be quite real. They have a Twitter feed. They have sponsors who are apparently not embarrassed to have this page link back to theirs.

They have an online game that charts your “happiness level” as you weave your way through the upcoming bureaucratic quagmire. “Like life,” the introduction to the game reads—which is, again, apparently non-ironic, despite the complete and utter malfunction of the government’s software-based rollout plan—“there may be a few surprises on the way.” Ha-ha! No kidding! (As another aside, there should really be a comma between the “Thanks” and the “Obamacare,” but Obamacare apparently doesn’t really care that you didn’t learn proper punctuation at your government-run school. More likely, Obamacare would attribute this error to the lack of universal Pre-K.)

In my heart of hearts, I am still hoping that the “Thanks Obamacare” website is an elaborate hoax. In the meantime, it appears that a significant portion of our nation has decided to pack their bags for Crazytown, USA.

So far this week—and it’s only Wednesday—we’ve seen a Slate column defending the government’s ability to kill you (“Canada Has Death Panels, and That’s a Good Thing”); Salon’s Joan Walsh berating a fellow liberal columnist, Ezra Klein, for daring to criticize the debilitating computer glitches in the health care rollout (“Liberal Pundit Fail: Rush to Attack Obamacare Site Only Aids Unhinged Right”), and the president of the United States apparently unable to find more than three people who have actually enrolled in his cockamamie plan to stand behind him at a national press conference defending said plan.

So seriously, we’ve got to be nearing the bottom. If we are, it’s only uphill from here. If I’m wrong, well, there’s only one thing to say: “Thanks Obamacare!” 

Heather Wilhelm is a writer based in Austin,Texas. Her work can be found at and her Twitter handle is @heatherwilhelm.

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