Death Spiral: Youth Participation Less Than One-Quarter of ObamaCare Enrollment

Posted by on Jan 13, 2014 at 4:38 pm

No wonder they’ve been hiding the numbers.

The new private health plans available under Obamacare drew in fewer young and healthy Americans than needed for the administration to make healthcare reform a market success in the first wave of enrollment, an official report showed on Monday.

Twenty-four percent of the 2.2 million people who signed up for private coverage between Oct. 1 and Dec. 28 belonged to a target audience of 18- to 34-year-olds, according to an administration report, the first to provide a demographic breakdown on enrollment in the new plans offered under President Barack Obama’s healthcare law.

That compares with a target closer to 38 percent set before the program’s botched Oct. 1 rollout, when administration officials believed that about 2.7 million of a forecast 7 million potential enrollees for 2014 would be between 18 and 35 to help offset the cost of covering sicker consumers.

Health policy experts say the administration may still get closer to that ratio by the time 2014 enrollment closes at the end of March, when more young Americans sign up to avoid the law’s penalty for not being insured.

Administration officials pointed to Monday’s data as an encouraging start, particularly given the technology failures that stalled access to the federal enrollment website in October and November.

A failure to improve on the numbers means insurers would need to raise prices next year, strengthening the position of Republican opponents who say Obamacare is not financially sustainable.

Well, it’s not now, nor will it ever be. So the poor suckers herded into this calamity will be stuck with even more sticker shock. Good luck with that.

Obama’s stenographers at Politico dutifully spin the news.

A senior administration official said that enough younger people had enrolled to avoid an insurance “death spiral.” He cited a Dec. 17 Kaiser Family Foundation report on insurance markets and youth enrollment.

“In that report, Kaiser essentially said that even if you only have 25 percent of your marketplace, of your composition being 18 to 34, that essentially takes death spiral off the table, that essentially you have a sustainable marketplace and that premiums would only be affected by a couple of percentages per person,” the official said.

So they conveniently massaged the numbers to get right close to the worst possible scenario and declare victory. Oh, and what was their benchmark for younger enrollees? Forty percent.

Too few young people are signing up for ObamaCare to stop premiums from skyrocketing, new data from the administration Monday shows.

Only 24 percent of ObamaCare’s enrollees are young people, according to the new data, well below the 40 percent benchmark set by the administration for the critical 18- to 34-year-old age group.

To keep premiums affordable, experts say it is vital that the law attract young and healthy “invincibles” unlikely to need critical care, as well as uninsured people who are older and sicker.

The administration struck a confident tone during a conference call with reporters, arguing that the law will work fine at present demographic levels. Officials said they expect young adults to sign up in higher numbers before open enrollment ends on March 31, as many observers expected younger and healthier people to put off enrolling until the last second.

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the momentum with young enrollees “was particularly strong” in December, when the administration says it saw an eight-fold increase in the number of 18- to 34-year-olds signing up.

Translation: She was lying.

2 Responses to “Death Spiral: Youth Participation Less Than One-Quarter of ObamaCare Enrollment”