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President Obama speaks on health care during the White House Youth Summit at the White House on Dec. 4. / Brendan Smialowski, AFP/Getty Images

WASHINGTON - President Obama made the case Wednesday for young Americans to sign up for insurance under Obamacare - urging a group of Millennial backers of his health policy to remind their peers of the consequences of not having health care.

In remarks before 160 young activists from local and national groups at a summit hosted by the White House, Obama recalled his own days as a so-called "young invincible," that cohort of 20-somethings that the president is counting on to sign up for health care to keep costs down for everyone.

"I do remember what it is like being 27 or 28," Obama said. "Aside from the occasional basketball injury, most of the time I kind of felt like I had nothing to worry about. Of course that's what most people think until they have something to worry about. But at that point, often times, it's too late."

The remarks by the president come as the Obama administration is at the beginning of a three-week effort to encourage Americans to return to the largely repaired federal online health exchange that had been beset with technical problems since its launch on Oct. 1.

Now that the website is working relatively smoothly, the Obama administration says it will spend much of the coming weeks encouraging Americans to sign up for insurance, so they have coverage at the beginning of the year.

No group is more important to the success of the law than young Americans. But Obama's pitch on Wednesday came as a new poll from the Harvard Institute of Politics showed that Millennials are nearly as disenchanted with the law as the general population.

Forty percent of young Americans believe Obamacare will bring worse care, 51% believe it will bring higher costs and 57% said they disapprove of the president's signature law, according to the poll.

Obama made the case that while many Millennials might not want to pay for insurance they should recognize that as adults they have a responsibility to their communities and their peers to sign up for insurance.

"Sometimes in this debate what we've heard are people saying: 'I don't need this. I don't want this. Why are you impinging on my freedom to do whatever I want?'" Obama said. 'If you get sick, and you get to the hospital and you don't have any coverage, then somebody else is also going to be paying for it.

"It may be your family - that can't afford it," Obama added. "Or it may be everybody else that does have health insurance and is acting responsibly and is essentially subsidizing you for your care."

The president also took a moment to criticize conservative groups that have launched advertising campaigns encouraging young people to opt out of Obamacare and instead pay a fine for failure to obtain coverage.

Most notably, Generation Opportunity, a Virginia-based group that is part of a coalition of conservative organizations with ties to billionaire businessmen Charles and David Koch, has launched an ad campaign calling on young people to "opt out." They have also made their case directly to Millennials on college campuses.

"Think about that," Obama said. "That's a really bizarre way to spend your money."



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Obama to youth: Be responsible and sign up for Obamacare

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