In the latest of a string of promotional tactics to get young adults enrolled in Obamacare’s health exchange, the White House recently declared February 15 as National Youth Enrollment Day.
The so-called “young invincibles,” young adults from ages 18 to 34, are critical for Obamacare’s success because these typically healthy Americans will pay higher rates than older and sicker consumers on the exchange. Without them, Obamacare’s federal and state-run exchanges would be at risk for a financial collapse, as insurers would dramatically hike premiums or get out of markets entirely to avoid huge losses.
While details of the National Youth Enrollment Day are scant, the Obama administration and its campaign arm have spent an undisclosed total amount of taxpayer dollars on outreach efforts specifically at young adults that include:
- $12 million ad buys during the Winter Olympics
- Several efforts to enlist mothers into coercing their adult children to enroll
- Celebrity endorsements
- Controversial ad campaigns
- And the infamous “Pajama Boy” Tweet that was mocked on the Internet.
So how effective will a National Youth Enrollment Day be in getting young adults to sign up for Obamacare? The Daily Show, a preferred media show for the millennial crowd, spoofed some of the latest Obamacare ads and a Harvard University poll showed a majority of millennials disapprove of the health law.
While the administration says more than 2 million Americans have signed up for private plans in the exchanges, it has backed away from its initial goal of 7 million enrollees by March 31—of which 38 percent (2.7 million) would be young adults. Officials now say they are more focused on getting the right mix of participants but have not provided any demographic details about participants.
A recent analysis from Reuters estimated more than 200,000 young adult enrollees (or 22 percent) in seven states and the District of Columbia. “Early data from a handful of state exchanges shows the administration needs more young adults to sign up in the next three months to help offset the costs from older enrollees and prevent insurers from raising their rates,” Lewis Krauskopf writes. An enrollment report from the Department of Health and Human Services released today shows about 24 percent of enrollees are between 18 and 34 – far below the Obama administration’s 38 percent target.
Meanwhile, health insurer Humana Inc. last week projected its enrollment pool for Obamacare plans was “more adverse than previously expected,” attributing the trend to regulatory changes by the administration that allow Americans to remain on existing plans that are not sold in the exchanges.
Convincing young adults to sign up isn’t the only challenge for Obamacare. The newly released Spanish version for Healthcare.gov, coming out more than two months after the main site’s botched launch, has been criticized as written in “Spanglish” (the unofficial combination of English and Spanish). In addition to a poor translation, users complain the site is full of grammatical mistakes.