January 14 2014

Young Adults Bypass ObamaCare

Patrice J. Lee

The Administration released updated numbers on ObamaCare enrollment through the end of 2013 and this time was more forthcoming about demographic data. We’re getting a better picture of the kinds of people enrolling in ObamaCare and one fact is clear: young, healthy Americans are bypassing –instead of buying into– ObamaCare.

Only one in four in the 18-34 age group is signing up for ObamaCare, and that is far below the targets.

Politico reports:

Just under a quarter of Obamacare sign-ups so far have been in the critical 18-to-35-year-old age range, the Obama administration revealed Monday, the first time officials have given demographic data about health plan enrollees.

The administration had set a goal of around 38 percent to 40 percent of the enrollees in that age bracket by the time the sign-up season ends March 31.

The administration’s monthly enrollment update showed 2.2 million people had picked health plans in the federal or state health exchanges from Oct. 1 through Dec. 28. It’s not yet clear how many have paid their first monthly premium, a requirement before coverage can begin. An additional 3.9 million people have been deemed eligible for Medicaid.

More than half of those who have signed up are between 45 and 64, an age range that tends to be sicker and costlier to cover, according to the enrollment figures released Monday by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Young adults signing up in sufficient numbers are critical to keeping premiums reasonable and the health insurance market stable. The Administration originally identified 2.7 million, or 39 percent, as the enrollment target for 18-34 year olds. This mix of young (presumably healthy) creates balance against old (and sicker) Americans, preventing a “death spiral” for ObamaCare which would make costs skyrocket and destabilize the system. In short, young healthy Americans must pay for older sicker Americans.

While some like the Kaiser Family Foundation suggests the Administration can get away with young adult enrollment as low as 25 percent, insurers are less confident. National insurer Humana, for example, raised concern with investors that the projected enrollment mix is more adverse than expected and that was just before these numbers were released. The head of Kaiser admitted that by the end of March if enrollment of young people doesn’t pick up, “there would be some cause for concern.”

The takeaway here is that despite the Administration’s taxpayer-funded PR efforts, which include celebrities, brosurance and ho-surance ads, and the infamous Pajama Boy, young Americans aren’t convinced that ObamaCare is best for them.

ObamaCare is expensive. On average a 30-year-old would see his health insurance costs rise in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. ObamaCare represents an added burden on the shoulders of a generation that faces 16 percent effective unemployment and high student loan debt.

The Administration is banking on the stereotype that young adults are procrastinators and will wait until the last minute sign up. The problem isn’t procrastination but that ObamaCare is a bad deal!

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