February 7 2014

Healthcare Sticker Shock Deters Young People

Patrice J. Lee

 Called “young invincibles” by the Administration and characterized as beer-guzzling and hook up-loving in ObamaCare ads, young people remain a critical demographic to the success of the federal and state health care exchanges.

However, our enrollment in ObamaCare lags and for good reason. The White House claims it’s because we are procrastinators – another generalization. A new survey dispels that notion and confirms what we and other groups like Generation Opportunity have been saying for some time. Healthcare costs—especially those under ObamaCare—are high and young people are not buying it. (In full disclosure I work for GenOpp).

According to the survey, 79% of students said they didn't have health insurance because they could not afford it. Only 9% said they didn't think they needed it or didn't want it. This does not bode well for the Administration’s enrollment efforts.

The L.A. Times reports:

Enrollment among young people remains a top priority for government exchanges and other supporters of the healthcare law. The new insurance marketplaces need enough healthier policyholders to offset the costs of sicker, older customers.

Through the end of last year, 125,033 people ages 18 to 34 had enrolled in private health plans through the Covered California exchange, or 25% of total enrollment. However, that age group represents 36% of people who are eligible for federal premium subsidies.

Many college students stand to qualify for government assistance toward health coverage based on their relatively low incomes.

Walter Zelman, chairman of the Department of Public Health at Cal State L.A., said the survey results run counter to the widely-held theory that students believe they are immune to accidents or poor health, so coverage isn't deemed necessary.

"This is not about invincibility; it is about affordability,” he said.

The ObamaCare system is built upon young, healthy Americans offsetting the cost of older, sicker Americans. The White House needs 2.7 million 19-34 year olds to buy into this system. With the final March 31st enrollment deadline less than a month and a half away, the Administration is pulling every trick out of the bag to lure young people in: celebrity endorsements, millions of dollars advertising during the Olympics (and last Sunday’s Super Bowl), ads featuring cats and dogs, and recruiting at places they expect high concentrations of young people like festivals, sneaker stores, and clubs.

For all the taxpayer dollars that have gone into convincing this demographic that we should enroll, the return on investment remains low. It’s no surprise. ObamaCare is a bad deal for young people and that is driving our decision to opt out or not sign up.

Like our parents, young people crunch numbers and consider our individual financial situations before making new commitments. Remember Millennials struggle with 16 percent unemployment, are underemployed and are shouldering high student loan debt.

Our approval of ObamaCare tracks with that of Americans overall – we disapprove of it. Earlier this week, Gallup found that a majority of Americans still disapprove (51%) of his signature healthcare law and that doesn’t appear to be changing despite improvements in the performance of the ObamaCare website.

Having healthcare insurance is responsible, but not always financially feasible and the un-Affordable Care Act has done little to change that for young people.

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