HAYWARD, Calif. (KTVU) - A new video nudging people toward health insurance stars President Obama, who takes a lighthearted approach.
Reminding Americans of an impending deadline, the President intones the deadline: "February 15th," while posing with a selfie stick and mugging in front of the mirror in his sunglasses.
Posted on the Buzzfeed website, it's a clear appeal to the twenty-something demographic that has been somewhat immune to purchasing health coverage.
At a Hayward church Friday evening, 22-year-old Wynesha Branch hadn't seen the video, but she was relieved to be signing-up.
As a full-time student, she worries about getting sick or injured and having to rely on emergency room care and out-of-pocket expenses.
"I thought it was going to be a longer wait, but it worked," Branch told KTVU, "there's not really such a big application, they do it for you, you just answer the questions".
An agent from the Covered California Exchange helped fine-tune the options.
Volunteers from the SEIU union were on hand to help with the process, and snap a photo of each enrollee afterward.
The cost of the insurance varies, according to income, and the coverage chosen.
Like last year, the formal deadline is February 15, but California is offering an extension to the 20th, as long as the enrollee has started the process by Sunday.
It all begins with a one page questionnaire: identification and social security number required.
"I don't know why I waited, i guess I didn't think I needed it," was the explanation offered by 20-year-old Denzel Johnson of Hayward. "My grandmother got me down here," he admitted.
"I told him 'if something happens, you need it,'" chimed in his grandma Doris McDaniel Collins, "health insurance is something you must have."
In San Jose Friday evening, KTVU found a health insurance agent meeting clients at a restaurant, to make the appointment as easy as possible. Not everyone procrastinates, she says.
"Many people come to us because they are stuck," explained Jenny Hong, "and since they can't figure out the next step, they are trying to find local help."
Hong admits the state website is slow, and the call-center phone lines are jammed.
"They said there were 87 people on hold ahead of me on the line," smiled Hong, "and last year it was like this too."
Last year, many people gave up and went without. When they file their 2014 taxes, that leaves them open to a penalty of 1 percent of their income. The penalty for skipping insurance doubles to 2 percent this year.
"And I tell them, it's not just the fine," added Hong, "it's the risk, because if you go into a hospital, your bill can easily be $100,000."
"I'm excited, I'm really excited," new enrollee Maria Barovero told KTVU at the Hayward event.
"I pay more for my dog's insurance than for myself and my husband!" she exclaimed, after upgrading her existing coverage to $120 monthly.
Barovero is a bartender, without benefits, and calls the availability of affordable care "beautiful".
"I'm an asthmatic, so it's brutal without insurance" she explained, "I need meds every month, and not having them, I had to scrape by."
By Sunday's deadline, the Obama administration hopes to see national enrollment hit ten million.
California is aiming for 1.7 million enrollees by the time open enrollment ends.
After that, insurance can still be purchased privately but without any subsidy.
The only way to re-enter the public marketplace is with a life-changing event such as job-loss, divorce or marriage, or the birth of a child.