President Obama took his pitch for Obamacare enrollment to an unconventional forum, sitting down for an interview on “Between Two Ferns,” an online talk show parody hosted by comedian Zach Galifianakis.
The interview which was taped two weeks ago, according to a report in the New York Times, was broadcast online Tuesday.
It's the latest effort by the Obama administration to bolster enrollment in Obamacare's insurance exchanges ahead of a March 31 deadline.
“Let’s get this out of the way. What did you come here to plug?” Galifianakis asked as they discussed health care.
“It's fair to say I wouldn’t be here with you today if I didn’t have something to plug,” said Obama, in the mock interview.
Asked about the botched website, Obama insisted healthcare.gov “works great now.”
“And millions of Americans have already gotten health insurance plans and what we want is for people to know that you can get affordable health care,” he said. “Most young Americans right now they are not covered and the truth is they can get coverage all for what it costs to pay your cell phone bill.”
Obama told Galifianakis that young people could sign up online, by phone and in person.
Told by the president that insurers could no longer deny consumers coverage because of pre-existing conditions, Galifianakis rolled up his sleeves to show Obama an old wound.
“Yeah, but what about this though,” he asked, pretending to show the president a spider bite.
“That’s disgusting,” said Obama, grimacing. “How long have you had that?”
Four million consumers have signed up for the state and federal exchanges, but with weeks left, that figure is still well behind the administration’s 7 million target.
The administration is also short of the young, healthy consumers needed to sign up to keep the law afloat and balance older, sicker consumers expected to join the exchanges.
The administration is trying new approaches to bolster youth enrollment, including by targeting mothers who are likely to sign up family members.
In February, first lady Michelle Obama also took their pitch to "The Tonight Show," joking with host Jimmy Fallon that young people were “knuckleheads” who needed insurance because they were likely to get hurt.
Obama also fielded questions about other topics, including whether he had sent basketball star Dennis Rodman to North Korea and whether his presidential library would be in Kenya.
“So, how does this work? Do you send Ambassador' Rodman to North Korea on your behalf,” Galifianakis asked, adding that he had heard wrestler Hulk Hogan was headed to Syria.
“Zack, he’s not our ambassador,” Obama said.
When Galifianakis prodded Obama with other questions about the country of “North Ikea,” the president sternly urged him to “move on.”
Galifianakis also asked Obama what it was like to be “the last black president.”
“Seriously? What’s it like for this to be the last time you ever talk to a president,” Obama shot back.
“When I heard that people actually watch this show, I was pretty surprised,” Obama joked at the start of the segment, pretending that he was unaware cameras were rolling.