April 3 2014

Slacker Alert: POTUS Overstates Youth ObamaCare Enrollment

Something smells fishy. And it’s the 3 million youth enrollment number that the President is reporting following the end of the ObamaCare’s first open enrollment period.

On Tuesday, when triumphantly announcing that the Administration had exceeded its  original enrollment target of 7 million Americans, the President also made a claim that should make his nose grow.

The Washington Free Beacon reports that he said on Tuesday “more than 3 million young adults … have gained insurance under this law by staying on their family’s plan.” However, that figure was based on a 2012 report from the Department of Health and Human Services. When a health policy expert calculated the numbers, he found something quite different:

The number of young people who can now stay on their parents' insurance plans until age 26—the so-called "slacker mandate"—is one of the most oft-repeated ObamaCare statistics.

The 3.1 million figure comes from a June 2012 report from the Department of Health and Human Services. The slacker mandate went into effect in late September 2010. Using data from the Center for Disease Control's National Health Interview Survey, HHS estimated that the number of 19-25-year-olds with insurance was about 64.4 percent in the third quarter of 2010 and was 74.8 percent in the last quarter of 2011. HHS took that increase of 10.4 percent and multiplied it with the number of 19-25-year-olds in the U.S. in 2011—about 29.7 million according to the Census Bureau—which yielded 3.1 million.

There are other reasons to be suspicious of the 3.1 million figure. For starters, it doesn’t jibe with Census Bureau numbers. The Census Bureau shows that from 2009, the year before the slacker mandate began, to 2012, the number of uninsured 18-24-year-olds declined by about 976,000. But not all of those went onto their parents’ insurance. For that age group, Medicaid enrollment grew 271,000 and employer-based coverage increased 447,000 during that same period. That would mean that those newly insured by joining their parents’ coverage were at most 258,000.

In short, HHS did some “back-of-the-envelope” calculations based on outdated data to arrive at the overblown 3.1 million figure. Yet, the Administration was quick to latch on to something that sounds big and impressive, and they haven’t indicated that they will use any more sophisticated analysis to derive more precise numbers.

That makes me question just how they derive any of the numbers they have reported?

A better question is why did the President trot out this number now? Well, it’s because he is hesitate to reveal how many 18-34 year olds actually signed up for ObamaCare by the “deadline.” Through the enrollment season only about a quarter of the signups were from that youth demographic, but about 40 percent are needed. ObamaCare relies on young and healthy American to subsidize the costs for older and sicker people. It unfairly hoists on our shoulders higher premiums for less care.

The Administration pulled every PR stunt it could to get young people to sign up and instead we opted out. To save face, the President reverted to reporting on how many young people received coverage from their parent’s insurance plans. Not only are the numbers wrong but it’s disingenuous.

Let’s be clear that ObamaCare’s flaws aren’t about bad PR or a broken website. Even if enrollment was smooth and the website surpassed expectations, the entire law is fundamentally flawed and does more harm than good to our job market, our economy, our lives, and our freedom. Young people know a bad deal when they see it.

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