Katie LaPotin, Red Alert Politics, November 5, 2013
The proof is in the pudding: The Obama Administration has failed to convince young Americans to sign up for the healthcare exchanges under the Affordable Care Act, ultimately putting the solvency of the entire program in jeopardy.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the average age for Americans enrolling in the exchanges in many states is in the fifties. In Michigan, for example, the average enrollee age for newcomers at Priority Health grew from 41 in 2012 to 51 this year. Arise Health Plan, the largest nonprofit insurer in Wisconsin, told the WSJ that more than half of its 150 signees are over the age of 50 – a much larger portion than they expected.
And in Kentucky, which has seen fewer problems with its exchange than those in other states, 40 percent of new enrollees were above the age of 55, while just 24 percent were under the age of 34.
It’s no secret that the administration prioritized getting the demographic enrolled in the program, as younger people tend to be healthier and thus rely less on doctors and medicines than their elders. Because of this, the exchanges essentially make money from Millennials, which helps to keep the entire program afloat. This is especially true when you consider the high premiums that healthy Millennials are paying for insurance come January.
“The more sick people who do enroll, the more exposed [insurers] become,” Jim O’Connor, an actuary for consulting firm Milliman Inc., told the WSJ.
Like it has with everything else, the White House has tried to cover up for this discrepancy by claiming that young people are just “waiting until the last minute” to sign up for Obamacare. Americans have until December 15 to sign up for coverage beginning on January 1, and until March 31 for open enrollment throughout the year.
It doesn’t help either that younger Americans – who tend to be more technologically savvy than older ones – aren’t signing up because of the website’s many problems. Often referred to as the instant gratification generation, if Millennials don’t get something on the first (or second) try, they’re just going to stop trying to get it. Thus, it’s unsurprising that many Millennials have simply given up on the exchanges.
Ironically, it was a Democrat – Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski – who hit the nail on the head during her questioning of Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Administrator Marilyn Tavenner during the Senate Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions hearing Tuesday morning when she asked if the Obama administration actually “had a plan to get the young people back.”
“There’s such a crisis of confidence that people won’t enroll, and the very people we need to enroll – particularly our young people – to make this whole system work won’t happen,” Mikulski said. “I’m looking for that 24-year-old working [at a tech firm in downtown Baltimore] to be able to apply.”
Tavenner replied that the administration does have “a targeted plan,” but only added that it would be media-based.
Perhaps the Obama Administration would be better off focusing on winning Millennials back instead of fixing the Healthcare.gov website, because unless it gets more young Americans to enroll fast, there won’t be any exchanges for Americans to sign up for with the website – period.