Will Young Americans “Make or Break” Obamacare?

By Shelby Holliday 09.05.2013 blog

The government is counting on 2.7 million young Americans to enroll in health care exchanges when they open in October, but can the Obama Administration convince these “young invincibles” to participate?

The numbers are not looking too good right now. According to a few recent studies:

Despite the challenges, the Obama administration is still trying to convince young people to enroll in exchanges by the end of the year. The government is spending $684 million on advertising, states have launched campaigns to target young adults, and the Department of Health and Human Services is promoting a video contest with $30,000 in prizes.

But the big question is — will any of it work?

Aside from being out-of-the-loop, one of the biggest factors pushing young adults away from the exchanges is cost. Single young adults could see their premiums rise more than 40% under the Affordable Care Act, and the average sticker price for a 21-year-old’s mid-range policy would cost $270/month. (Even with subsidies, how many 21-year-olds have the cash to pay for health insurance?) If you consider the rising costs of college, high youth unemployment rates, and growing student loan debt, it’s not hard to see why many might decide to forgo coverage altogether.

Young people could also be deterred by their lack of options on the exchanges. Since healthy 20-somethings don’t necessarily need comprehensive insurance plans, they may turn to a high deductible health insurance plan (HDHP), a family insurance plan if they are under the age of 26, or even to neighborhood clinics and a-la-carte services when they are sick. While these options all could help young adults get coverage, they would not help the subsidize the health care of older Americans via state exchanges, a key piece of the Obamacare pie.

What’s your take? Do you think the young and uninsured will eventually sign up for coverage?


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