Obamacare Numbers For Young Americans Skew Toward ‘Worst-Case Scenario’
January 13, 2014 by Sam Rolley
Good news from the White House: Obamacare enrollment numbers have almost reached “worst-case scenario” status.
On Monday, White House officials took to Twitter, saying, “Share the news: 1 out of 4 Americans who signed up for coverage through the #Obamacare exchanges are between 18 and 24.”
The figure comes from a Department of Health and Human Services announcement which notes that, despite the Administration’s goal of 39 percent for the demographic, young adults make up just 24 percent of enrollees as the halfway mark for the six-month open enrollment period nears.
Despite the White House’s attempt to spin the enrollment numbers into a positive light, missing the benchmark for young Affordable Care Act enrollees means that healthcare premiums will potentially skyrocket to decidedly unaffordable levels.
A study released by the Kaiser Family Foundation last year provides some perspective as to what the current enrollment figures mean for Obamacare, offering the following “worst-case scenario”:
Young adults age 18-34 enroll at a 50% lower rate than other individuals relative to the potential market. Under this scenario, young adults would represent 25% of enrollees, substantially less than their share of the potential market. It is roughly comparable to what Covered California reported for October and November (the first two months of open enrollment), with 21% of all enrollees who picked a plan in the 18-34 age range. However, this is likely a worst-case scenario, since the expectation is that older and sicker individuals are more likely to buy first and that younger and healthier people will tend to wait until towards the end of the open enrollment period (which concludes March 31, 2014). In fact, our recent survey of people in California who are uninsured found that 58% of young adults said they planned to get coverage in 2014. But, if this more extreme assumption of low enrollment among young adults holds, overall costs in individual market plans would be about 2.4% higher than premium revenues.
Kaiser goes on to note that the low youth enrollment is not likely to be the leading case of an Obamacare “death spiral,” instead predicting a modest uptick in premiums next year. But with many Americans already reeling from Obamacare sticker shock and the problems which have already plagued the healthcare overhaul, it is also not likely that a modest price increase will be good news for American support for the law.