Glitches or No Glitches, Young People aren’t Likely to Go for Obamacare
HealthCare.gov is not the biggest problem with Obamacare, though it’s getting the most media coverage. The real problem is the law’s viability (or the lack thereof), and even some of the law’s most prominent supporters, like Bill Clinton, have said without healthy young people, Obamacare doesn’t work.
The website may get fixed, but if and when that happens, the underlying policy remains just as unworkable.
During her testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee Wednesday,Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA) 12%asked Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius how she and HHS plan to convince people to return to HealthCare.gov to sign up for Obamacare once the website is fixed. She replied:
We intend to invite them back, formally by email, by message, but we don’t want to do that until we are confident that they will have a different experience. So fixing the site is step one, and then inviting people back to the site to make it clear that when our timetable is fulfilled, they have four months to shop for affordable health coverage on a fully functioning site. We know we’re going to have to spend special time and attention on young and healthy Americans who don’t start out thinking they need health insurance, aren’t aware of the law, certainly don’t want to use a failed or flawed site.
Recall, the Administration waged an aggressive public relations campaign to reach out to young people before October 1 when HealthCare.gov launched. And with the botched rollout of the HealthCare.gov Obamacare website, it’s not easy to tell what turns young people off more: there inability to use the website effectively or the high costs of Obamacare.
In the months leading up to the Obamacare rollout, the Administration tried many things from video contests to advertising in porta-potties. It’s unclear how well that worked, since even the Administration cannot provide accurate numbers for how many individuals have signed up for Obamacare.
But the real question Rep. McNerney should ask is: what incentive do young people have to sign up for Obamacare? Liberals argue that young, healthy individuals might be one accident away from financial ruin if they don’t have health insurance. But will Obamacare’s skyrocketing premiums make young people more or less likely to sign up for Obamacare?
The Left is eager to suggest they will get health care coverage under Obamacare. For example, a Reuters article optimistically entitled “Poll shows healthy young adults may keep Obamacare afloat” indicated that roughly one third of young adults they surveyed had tried to sign up for insurance in the past and failed, but that one third of these same young adults said they hoped to be able to buy health insurance now.
Watchdog reporter Kathryn Watson called them out for their wishful thinking:
Reuters figured if just half of them do so, “the White House would easily meet its goal of getting 2.7 million young adults — out of about 16 million uninsured 19-to-29-year-olds — to buy Obamacare insurance for 2014.”
This group couldn’t afford health insurance before, and Reuters never bothers to explain how they’ll afford it when it gets more expensive.
Monthly premiums under Obamacare will go up for young people in all 50 states, according to a study released Thursday by the center-right American Action Forum. Premiums will average more than $187 per month in 2014, up from $62 per month in 2013, a 202 percent increase, the study said.
The Heritage Foundation research also shows that premiums will rise in 45 states under Obamacare, and young people are usually hit the hardest by these increases:
Many states, however, double or nearly triple premiums for young adults. Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, and Vermont see some of the largest increases in premiums.
Our findings confirm that younger populations see larger percentage increases in premiums. A state that exhibits this clearly is Vermont, where the increase for 27-year-olds is 144 percent and the increase for 50-year-olds is still 60 percent, but far less. All states exhibit this relationship.
Will young adults become more likely to buy insurance when it becomes more expensive for them to do so? I guess we’ll have to see how compelling a case Kathleen Sebeluis and the Administration can make for their failed law.