The enrollment period to sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act begins Wed. Nov. 1, but far fewer Americans may be aware of it because the advertising budget was cut by the Trump administration by 90 percent compared to last year.
Hoping to make up part of the difference, former President Barack Obama is turning to social media and an advertising firm is calling for donated ads and media space.
In a video posted by a group of former officials who oversaw enrollment efforts during his administration, Obama encourages people to seek coverage so they don’t face the growing tax penalty.
“Healthcare.gov is open for business right now,” the former president says in the short video. The simple, straight-to-camera message is a far cry from the elaborate, viral videos he made in years past.
Obama’s efforts to advertise the enrollment window during his administration included making a video on Snapchat where he used a filter on his face, for BuzzFeed where he used a selfie stick, and on Funny or Die’s series “Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis.”
A spokesperson for Obama did not respond to questions about his plans to promote the enrollment window this year.
Separately, Coverage Coalition, a project started by the firm Barton F. Graf, has three rules for donated ads: They should share the message of when and where people can sign up for health care, they should be creative, and they shouldn’t be political.
“We believe that no matter what your politics are, you should have access to this information and the health care you need,” Katherine Dorey, a spokeswoman for the agency, told CNN’s COVER/LINE in an email.
In the lead-up to the enrollment window, the agency created a number of ads it posted on the Instagram account for Coverage Coalition.
In August, the Trump administration announced it was slashing the budget to advertise for signing up for health care through the ACA, or Obamacare, from $100 million to $10 million. Since then, President Trump has inaccurately claimed the ACA is dead.
“There is no such thing as Obamacare anymore,” he said earlier this month during a Cabinet meeting. “You shouldn’t even mention it anymore. It’s gone.”
Trump promised during the 2016 campaign that repealing the ACA would be one of his first acts as president, but so far, Republicans’ efforts to do so have fallen short.
A CNN poll earlier this month found 60 percent of Americans believe the Trump administration and Congress should prioritize trying to make sure the current health insurance system works as it’s supposed to rather than replacing it with something else.
In 2016, about $100 million was spent on advertising and 9.2 million people signed up for health coverage through the federal exchange. In 2015, $51.2 million was spent and 9.6 million people signed up.
Enrollment for health care begins Nov. 1 and runs until Dec. 15, 2017.