#TBT—Obamacare Isn’t Working Because We Aren’t Buying

By November 29, 2017Healthcare

The recent news about skyrocketing health care premiums is just the latest example of how Obamacare is failing Americans. The program is particularly bad for young Americans, because the entire system depends on us.

Last year, David Barnes, our director of policy engagement, published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal explaining how Obamacare forces young Americans to foot the bill. Read on to learn why the Obama administration tried so desperately to get us to buy insurance with their condescending ad campaigns.

A Millennial’s ObamaCare Lament

ObamaCare won’t work without young Americans like me, and the Obama administration knows it. That’s why the president is holding a Millennial Outreach and Engagement Summit focused on the Affordable Care Act at the White House on Tuesday. But no matter what the president says, many young Americans simply aren’t buying what he’s selling—mainly because we can’t afford it.

The administration has targeted my generation to sign up for ObamaCare for one reason: We’re healthy. The health-insurance companies selling plans on the law’s exchanges need us to pay a pretty penny in premiums without using much medical care. We’re supposed to subsidize the system so that it stays afloat. That was the plan, anyway. It fell apart when we didn’t sign up in droves like the White House expected.

Since ObamaCare’s implementation three years ago, the percentage of enrollees under 34 has remained steady every year at about 28%. According to the Census, some 16% of Americans between 25 and 34 have opted to remain uninsured, which is 71% higher than the uninsured rate for 45- to 65-year-olds.

But without our premiums, health insurers can’t turn the profit they were counting on. Their only options are to raise premiums on everyone else or abandon the ObamaCare exchanges. That’s why premiums are skyrocketing almost everywhere and why more than 40 insurers have abandoned the law in the past two years.

Hence the White House’s new sense of urgency to sign us up. Tuesday’s summit is supposed to kick off this campaign. The goal, as Mr. Obama recently explained in a letter to health insurers, is “to enroll more youth in the Marketplace” this fall. The administration is also taking its message to social media—using the condescending hashtag #HealthyAdulting—and pandering to us by signing up private companies and celebrities to push its message.

Then there’s the administration’s June announcement that it would use confidential taxpayer information to target young Americans who haven’t signed up. The details haven’t been released, but it’s hard to see how this doesn’t cross an ethical line. Our personal information at the Internal Revenue Service is supposed to be private.

Either way, the White House is doomed to fail. Young Americans are avoiding ObamaCare because it isn’t a good deal for us.

Last week I visited Healthcare.gov to scout out the most-affordable health-insurance plans I could buy for next year. In Arlington, Va., where I live and work, the cheapest option is $200 a month with a $6,850 deductible. Across the Potomac in D.C., the premiums are slightly cheaper but the deductible is still sky-high.

My experience isn’t unique. ObamaCare is plainly unaffordable for many young Americans. We’re at the start of our careers—and the bottom of the income ladder—so paying so much for something we likely won’t use makes little sense. The IRS penalty of $695 or 2.5% of our income is often cheap by comparison. We may be young, but we can do the math.

Nothing the White House says at the summit on Tuesday can change this reality. Young Americans aren’t looking for “outreach” and “engagement” from President Obama. We’re looking for affordable health-insurance plans—and ObamaCare doesn’t offer them.

Author Generation Opportunity

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