February 13 2014
ObamaCare Youth Blunder
Patrice J. Lee
Did you know that this Saturday is National Youth Enrollment Day? Don’t worry, few people do. It’s another gimmick and last-minute effort to get young healthy, people to sign up for ObamaCare.
However, someone forgot to tell the folks over at Health and Human Services. They announced that healthcare.gov will be down this weekend for scheduled maintenance. Perfect timing!
Those most surprised about the scheduling snafu are youth advocacy groups hosting bar crawls and attending festivals trying to get young people to enroll. Once again, because of incompetence the Administration is shooting itself in the foot –and that is to the good of young people who are being sold a bad deal with ObamaCare.
Saturday is National Youth Enrollment Day for Obamacare, a day designed to help make up for youth recruitment time lost while HealthCare.gov was down last year. It will be marked by a broad array of events, from Head Start information sessions to pub crawls.
The day will also feature a HealthCare.gov outage that came as a surprise to the White House allies who have been planning Feb. 15 enrollment activities for weeks.
The Obamacare website outage begins at 3 p.m. ET and carries on through Tuesday at 5 a.m. ET. While the Social Security system is down for maintenance, HealthCare.gov users will not be able to formally send in an application for health insurance, though they will be able to browse plans and, the enrollment groups say, calculate what insurance will cost for their family.
A functioning website has always been pitched by the administration and its allies as key to securing youth enrollment in health care. It’s not the most important thing, they say — affordability information is the key to getting youth enrollment. But a working website is a key piece to the puzzle.
Although groups participating in this National Youth Enrollment Day are pretending like this will be no big deal, they should--and probably are--nervous.
The inability to electronically submit applications transmits the message that healthcare.gov is broken again. On a key day dedicated to making youth enrollment a priority the optics are that young people really aren’t as important to the Administration as the President and ObamaCare advocates claim.
Youth groups plan to use paper applications. What then, fax them in or mail them on Tuesday? Why not just use carrier pigeons to fly back the applications?
Following last week’s damning news from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that two million jobs will be shed over the next few years because of ObamaCare and as young people experience stick shock from ObamaCare, enrollments of young people are slowing and may not catch up.
As a reminder, to keep healthcare costs from spiraling out of control the federal and state healthcare exchanges require a mix of young and healthy participants to pay the costs of older, sicker patients. So far only a quarter of those enrolled are between 19-34 and it needs to be closer to 40 percent according to the CBO’s original projections.
If there is one lesson to take away from this latest blunder, it is that even at its best (federal) government often struggles to organize and manage large-scale, complex initiatives. Instead of efficiency, nimbleness, and precision, we get duplication, error, and ineptitude. If departments can’t communicate and coordinate on a major initiative like this weekend’s enrollment push, why do we expect them to manage well the complexities of our health care system?