US President Barack Obama rides his bicycle in West Tisbury on Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, on Aug. 27, 2010.
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Obama calls ‘On Air with Ryan Seacrest’ to defend ACA, mom jeans

Updated

President Barack Obama phoned in to On Air with Ryan Seacrest on Friday to discuss the looming enrollment deadline for the Affordable Care Act, the latest in a series of viral stunts intended to encourage young people to buy health insurance coverage.  

“You should go to HealthCare.gov and compare the prices that are available for various private plans. And they’re the same kind of plans that you’d get on the job that people are familiar with,” he told Seacrest, who also hosts American Idol.

Citizens must sign up for a plan by March 31 or risk not being covered by health insurance for the remainder of the year. Once this month ends, the next opportunity to enroll will be in November. Americans who cannot afford a plan with the help of subsidiaries and tax exemptions, however, won’t suffer penalties for not enrolling.

Almost one million residents registered for insurance last month, but the White House is still aiming to recruit two million more in less than three weeks. About 4.2 million people overall have found private health coverage through the new insurance exchanges since the infamously rocky rollout of the website last October.

Obama also took to the airwaves to set the record straight about his sartorial style. Earlier this month, former Gov. Sarah Palin criticized Obama’s weakness for the current situation in Ukraine, saying that while Russian President Vladimir Putin “wrestles bears and drills for oil,” people “look at our president as one who wears mom jeans.”

“I’ve been unfairly maligned about my jeans,” Obama told Seacrest on Friday. “The truth is, generally I look very sharp in jeans.”

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Earlier this week, the president sat down with Zach Galifianakis to shoot an episode of the comedian’s Internet series Between Two Ferns, which he used as another opportunity to make his health-care pitch. Host Galifianakis questioned him about other topics ranging from the Olympics to North “Ikea” – er, Korea.

“Zach actually was pretty nervous,” Obama said during the telephone call. “His whole character is to go after the guest and I think he was looking around and seeing all these Secret Service guys with guns and thinking, ‘I wonder what happens here if I cross the line?’ But we had a great time.”

The six-minute web-exclusive video has received 15 million views since its release on Tuesday. It prompted 32,000 referrals and 575,000 website visits to HealthCare.gov by that evening, the federal agency reported on Twitter earlier this week.

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Obama also discussed with Seacrest his recent visit to a New York City Gap store, where he supported the local brand while shopping for his family. The clothing retailer recently made public its plans to raise the minimum hourly rate to $9 an hour this year and $10 an hour in 2015. The decision to raise wages put the Gap at odds with other U.S. retailers, who have urged legislators to maintain the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

“My basic attitude is, if you work full-time in this country you shouldn’t be in poverty, and a lot of folks, particularly women, work in low-wage jobs. Raising the minimum wage really makes a difference, and so I wanted to acknowledge that the Gap is doing the right thing and I hope more companies do the same thing,” he said.

Obama has agreed to similar appearances in the past, including debuting on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to “slow-jam” the news, hosting Google Hangouts, and answering questions from retired professional basketball player Charles Barkley.

Barack Obama, Health Care and Health Care Policy

Obama calls 'On Air with Ryan Seacrest' to defend ACA, mom jeans

Updated