October 25 2013
National Review Online
The “Julias” of the world have been led to believe that the president’s health law was full of gifts: mandated preventative and maternity care, community-rating provisions that equalize women’s premiums with men’s, and, of course, “free” birth control.
But a new analysis shows that Obamacare will have serious consequences for this favorite Democrat voting bloc: Many young women will face steep premium increases. It looks like we will pay for all of these “gifts” after all.
The American Action Forum found that the average 30-year-old non-smoking woman who buys her own insurance will see premium increases by at least 193 percent. This woman will not see her premiums decrease in any of the 50 states.
It might be easy to shrug this data off. After all, about 60 percent of Americans get their health insurance through an employer, and many young women under age 26 can find coverage through their parents’ plan. Isn’t it rare for a young woman to buy her own individual plan? Think again.
The jobs figures from September are out, and the numbers are not pretty for women. While the official unemployment rate for women ticked down from 6.8 to 6.7, implying that fewer women are unemployed, the opposite is actually true. In September, 154,000 fewer women had jobs than in August, while 268,000 women dropped out of the labor force entirely. Women’s work-force-participation rate just hit a 24-year low.
Guess what? No job, no employer-sponsored insurance. And as health costs continue to rise, more companies are abandoning spousal coverage as well.
More “Julias” than ever will find themselves in the individual market for insurance, or Obamacare’s exchanges, where they may face triple-digit premium increases.
In a smug and paternalistic way, Obamacare supporters are attempting to reassure these young women that their new coverage will be better. Remember ladies, Uncle Sam knows best. Don’t worry your pretty head about what plans suit your individual and personal health-care needs. After all, you have your free birth control . . . what else could you possibly need? (Job? Car payment? Groceries? Nah!)
Another source of reassurance is the law’s liberal subsidies for applicants in the exchanges. But these subsidies only benefit some. In fact, the American Academy of Actuaries found that even taking subsidies into account, four out of five people under 30 will pay more in individually purchased insurance premiums.
Young women are facing fewer options when it comes to insurance: Student plans are becoming history. Jobs — and the benefits that come with them — are harder to find. Spousal coverage is shrinking. And even Mom and Dad’s plan runs out upon that 26th birthday.
Even forgoing insurance is going to become unaffordable as the individual-mandate penalty goes into effect and increases over the coming years. With reduced options and higher costs, perhaps some of the 67 percent of single women who voted to reelect President Obama will feel some buyer’s remorse.
— Hadley Heath is senior policy analyst at the Independent Women’s Forum and a 2012–2013 National Review Institute Washington fellow.