January 28, 2014
Young sign-up rate in Washington not looking so good

The Obama administration's release two weeks ago of demographic breakdowns in the Obamacare exchanges attempted to put some lipstick on the pig by noting that enrollments by the 18-34 crowd surged before the New Year. Even with the uptick, those 18-34-year-olds make up only 24% of those who have "selected a plan" so far (the feds released statistics on those who had gone through the process and picked a plan, but did not necessarily take the final step of paying).

Overall, 2.2 million people "selected a plan" through December, well short of the 7 million the administration hopes to sign up by the end of March (a figure Obama's team has tried to back away from, earning them two Pinnochios). Even before the administration announced the 24% figure, some insurers were signaling that they expect to write down some exchange business because of adverse selection.

With all this making national news, it seemed like a good time to check in on how Washington's exchange is doing at attracting young people. The state exchange's latest figures, through Dec. 31, show that those in the 18-34 age group make up only 21.68% of enrollees in private plans (note, the state exchange's figures are for enrollees who have actually made a payment). It will take a lot of work by the end of March to reach the 40% the Obama administration believes is necessary to avoid rate hikes.

That young people aren't enthused about high Obamacare rates isn't surprising. By design, Obamacare's 3-1 rule ensures young people will pay a lot more than they cost the system. A recent analysis in Contingencies, the magazine of the National Association of Health Underwriters, found that someone 21-29 earning around $46,000 will pay 42% more because of Obamacare.

Young people with lower incomes will also pay more under Obamacare, even with subsidies: "Our core finding is that young, single adults aged 21 to 29 with incomes beginning at about 225 percent of the [federal poverty level], or roughly $25,000, can expect to see higher premiums than would be the case absent the ACA, even after accounting for the presence of premium assistance."

In some ways, the Obama administration benefitted from the disastrous website rollouts of the federal exchange and the state exchanges. People came to believe that the problems with Obamacare were technology issues -- the real problems are more fundamental than that. Speaking of exchange websites, if you missed it last week, be sure to check out Monica Guzman's piece in GeekWire: "Washington state's Obamacare site better than most -- but that's still not saying much."

Posted by Adam Faber at January 28, 2014 07:34 AM | Email This
1. "... young people will pay a lot more than they cost the system."

Unlike every other health-insurance system ever; in those plans, the young and healthy never, ever subsidized the other persons in the pool.

"... the National Association of Health Underwriters,"

Who are in no way bitter about the government having imposed higher standards upon their industry, or about the government providing alternatives to their inadequate (for the buyer) yet profitable (for the seller) health-care plans.

But don't worry; our most vocal Obamacare beneficiary, Rags, will soon be here to agree with you on how bad it is.

Posted by: tensor on January 28, 2014 08:44 AM
2. By design, Obamacare's 3-1 rule ensures young people will pay a lot more than they cost the system.

If we had an objective news media, its headlines since that fact became clear would have been OBAMA'S WAR ON THE YOUNG.

Looting the young, in the years when they need those assets for starting families and buying homes, is a criminal waste of a generation for the benefit of geezers who already own a hell of a lot more assets than the youngsters do.

Small wonder that the sign-up rate for the 'invulnerables' is only a small fraction of the number the Obamoids arrogantly estimated would enroll in their Grand Scheme. Despite the irresistible persuasion of Pajama Boy, it's encouraging to see the common sense of this generation exhibited by their refusal to buy in.

Posted by: Insufficiently Sensitive on January 28, 2014 08:54 AM
3. Because the Obamabots and Harry Reid pushed the ACA through on a procedural hack, voters are instead choosing to vote with their feet. And we have know for a while now that the young are not signing up, even uninsured youth.

Disgusting hypocrite too is Reid, because he is the same guy that whines incessantly when even modest parliamentary tricks are used by the GOP.

I blame it partly on another Obama screw up. Who's gonna give all their private info to the same Federal Government that is tapping in to data on their smart phone apps?

And polls show, most people no longer trust the President, or take him seriously.

Empty suit.

Posted by: Mike on January 28, 2014 09:20 AM
4. "... young people will pay a lot more than they cost the system."

"Looting the young, in the years when they need those assets for starting families and buying homes, is a criminal waste of a generation for the benefit of geezers who already own a hell of a lot more assets than the youngsters do."

"And we have know for a while now that the young are not signing up, even uninsured youth."

Does anyone here actually know how insurance works?

Nope, didn't think so.

Posted by: tensor on January 28, 2014 10:21 AM
5. All insurance is about subsidies; that's the whole point. And most government programs are about subsidies, too. Not just programs for the poor -- also roads, schools, parks, firefighting, etc. Get over it.

But I'll be honest: Adam has a point. Obamacare implements subsidies in a problematic way. Subsidies work best when the person paying the subsidy (e.g., the taxpayer for the programs above) has no choice in the matter. But Republicans didn't want to pay for healthcare that way, and instead Nixon, Romney, etc. preferred to require people to buy insurance privately (the "individual mandate"). That still could work (albeit with the inefficiency of an extra layer of profit), but then they refused to actually require anyone to buy insurance, instead applying a tiny and unenforceable penalty.

The possible solutions are obvious: Actually enforce the individual mandate. Or, fund healthcare through taxes. Or, at least fund the subsidy for poor people through taxes. But most Republicans will fight all of these ideas, because they aren't genuinely interested in making Obamacare work. They just want to take potshots.

Fortunately, even with all its flaws, Obamacare is better than what it replaced and better than what Republicans would propose, so it will survive and gradually get improved while the Republicans once again go down fighting on the wrong side of history. But the Republican strategy of playing politics with healthcare -- as exemplified by Adam's position -- hurts our country. We are all injured by that.

Posted by: Bruce on January 28, 2014 10:23 AM
6. @5

Or, act like a reasonable government and impose the penalty by requiring everyone to have insurance in the same way we do auto insurance. But to allow a real private insurance market to exist along with all of the other benefits that would bring, just as it does with vigorous competition for auto insurance. Government is great as a regulator and terrible as an implementer.

You Bots will try to float this turd forever, dumping more and more billions in, and it will always be a sub-par operation, just like everything else government. And that is the essence of socialism. Make everything a bit worse for everyone in the name of making it better for a tiny few.

You bots just love suck. Admit it.

Posted by: Mike on January 28, 2014 12:27 PM
7. Mike@6, I agree that health insurance should be regulated much like auto insurance. And it is. What specific changes do you propose?

Posted by: Bruce on January 28, 2014 12:34 PM
8. Bruce -- you may as well ask him what level of performance to which metrics wod satisfy him. He opposes the program on "principle", and so literally nothing will satisfy such a critic. All he wants is for the program to be dismantled completely, and he has the meaningless glibertarian catchphrases to "support" his point:

"Government is great as a regulator and terrible as an implementer."

Don't ask him about all the Social Security payments that "terrible .. implementer" has missed, despite decades of hearing how it will fail anytime now.

Posted by: tensor on January 28, 2014 12:45 PM
9. Tensor@8, you are so cynical! All Mike wants is to require everyone to have health insurance like they have auto insurance. All Adam wants is for more young people to sign up. All Mitt wanted was for states to be able to implement something like Romneycare/Obamacare if their citizens had similar needs (i.e., healthcare). And all the nice patriotic teapartiers want is for Obama to delay Obamacare for a year so they can work diligently to make it better. Don't you trust them?

Posted by: Bruce on January 28, 2014 01:45 PM
10. The Republicans ARE'T going to repeal Obamacare.

It's quite obvious.


Posted by: Steve@stevemaik.com on January 28, 2014 03:09 PM
11. ""The Republicans ARE'T going to repeal Obamacare.
It's quite obvious."

How about "can't"? They don't have the votes, and if they shut the government down in an election year, they'll have even fewer votes next year. But hey, follow Eric bin Eric and his Red-Faced Trike Farce over the cliff. We won't miss you.

Posted by: tensor on January 28, 2014 04:25 PM
12. No the Republicans are not going to repeal Obamacare, but they can replace parts of it, as Sens. Coburn, Hatch and Burr have laid the groundwork for. That is only a start and will not be an end-all so don't get too excited.

The GOP can actually do something correct for a change - pass a bill in the House that forbids a financial bailout of Insurance Companies by the Federal Government. If nothing else, a majority of Americans will support that.

Posted by: KDS on January 28, 2014 09:03 PM
13. You can tell the president is really proud of this program because he talked about it at the State of the Union so much tonight...oh wait.

Posted by: Uhh... on January 28, 2014 11:13 PM
14. No the Republicans are not going to repeal Obamacare, but they can replace parts of it

When's that going to happen? I want to mark my calendar...

Posted by: scottd on January 28, 2014 11:40 PM
15. KDS wants the GOP to "pass a bill in the House that forbids a financial bailout of Insurance Companies by the Federal Government."

You do realize that such a bill would be meaningless, don't you? Because (even if such a ban passed the Senate and was signed by the president) Congress could, at any point in the future, approve a bailout by, um, voting for it.

Posted by: Bruce on January 29, 2014 01:54 AM
16. Actually I partially take back #15. While Congress could still vote anytime to subsidize low-income insurance customers through their insurers, a law against that would require future Congressional action to give subsidies rather than just executive branch action.

I see why Republicans want this ban so badly. A key feature of Obamacare is the subsidy that makes insurance affordable for everyone. The subsidy has 2 components: a direct federal subsidy and the requirement that insurers not differentiate rates by age quite as much as a free market would suggest. Direct subsidies are more efficient (since they don't discourage young people from getting insurance), so since Republicans want to sabotage Obamacare, they are against them.

Posted by: Bruce on January 29, 2014 01:01 PM
17. @15,16 Of course the Senate would not want to pass such a bill, but politically it would be a win for the House, because they will be on record as opposing bailouts for Obamacare insurers,.

There is nothing efficient about bailouts, but the upside down and backward logic of Democrat/Statists only thinks in terms of the state and to hell with the peasants and working class - right Bruce ?

You are sounding that way even though you will explain that it is not your intention. Let Obamacare sink or swim on its own merits - no more subsidies or bailouts, for it will further cripple the economy. After reading more about it, the GOP replacement bill crafted in the Senate needs work and I would not support it in its current state.

Posted by: KDS on January 29, 2014 09:08 PM
18. "...the GOP replacement bill crafted in the Senate needs work and I would not support it in its current state."

So, it's not going to happen, then? You're a cruel, cruel man, KDS, raising the hopes of folks like scottd and myself, only to dash them, a few comments later. I don't know how you can live with yourself, really. ;-)

Posted by: tensor on January 29, 2014 09:41 PM
19. Please don't think bringing up this old story makes me racist. It just fits so well


See Obamacare wasn't ever supposed to work. And you can't "fix" what wasn't made to work in the first place.

So, the more Republicans try to fix it, the worse it's going to get until the Next Democrat comes along and just gives us total government health care.

Voting against any Republican promising to FIX Obamacare!

Posted by: Steve on January 30, 2014 01:42 PM
20. Obamacare's Unpopularity Rises Among Uninsured

Opposition to ObamaCare now 2:1 ... among the uninsured

Behold, your chart of the day. This comes from Kaiser Health News, which has regularly polled on health-related policies, and in particular the uninsured in relation to ObamaCare. Since 2011, the support and opposition have remained fairly close together, but now that ObamaCare has been implemented, a dramatic change has taken place -- and one the White House and Democrats won't like ...

DISASTER... Uninsured Opposition to ObamaCare Skyrockets

Nearly 50% of Uninsured Voters Now Oppose Obamacare-

Maybe because it's unaffordable.

Poll: Obamacare Approval Rating Among Uninsured Plummets To Only 24%

Ahh ... something about SCHADENFREUDE...

1086 days

PS: Goodbye and good riddance to Comrade Waxman - and the other TEN rats with ("a lot of seniority and would have been in line for Chairman gavels on important committees if Democrats took control of Congress") jumping the SS* ObamaTitanic

*Superiorly Sucking

SCHADENFREUDE indeed ... and writ deliciously large

Posted by: RagnarDanneskold on January 30, 2014 01:42 PM
21. The Republicans never got what Obamacare really was...


Obama Wanted the Republicans to go and try to fix it.

It was never designed to work. Can't fix what wasn't designed to work in the first place.

I am voting against any Republican talkin' about "fixin' Obamcare".

Posted by: Steve on January 30, 2014 01:50 PM
22. If you don't watch all the way through, you'll miss a shell-shocked middle-class mother nearly reduced to tears as she contemplates her new premiums and deductible.
Even the few workers who "save" money on premiums are staring at towering new deductible, the out-of-pocket minimum they must pay for care before their coverage kicks in. "There's nothing affordable about it," sighs one such employee. "I can't afford it."

These aren't Wall Street fat-cats. These aren't free riders who've cavalierly declined to buy coverage, sticking others with the bill when they visit the emergency room. These aren't greedy insurance executives "discriminating" against sick people. These people don't even come close to resembling Obamacare supporters' designated villains. They're blue collar Pennsylvanians trying to make ends meet, working with their hands at an auto repair shop. Look at their faces as they grapple with their new reality. Will I be able to pay my mortgage? Do we need to re-think that family vacation we've been promising the kids for five years? Please, God, let that lump be nothing.

It's heartbreaking. It's infuriating.

DemocRAT bastards. YOU built that. Please talk a bit more about "heartless" conservatives.

My insurance? It went up from $5868 to $9540 per year.
My Deductible? Went from $5,000 to $10,000 per year.
The dirty little secret? There are NO insurance benefits, whatsoever until we've met that deductible. In essence my cost has gone from $5868 to $19,540 per year PLUS the cost of the health care they are merely counting toward the deductible. I sure hope my kid doesn't need that MRI ...

Oh. Wait.

Duh. I no longer have that pesky $35 co-pay, while my "well" benefits have gone unchanged. Bastard DemocRATS want to shame me into being gleeful about the crumbs I don't now and will never want or need.

Posted by: RagnarDanneskold on January 30, 2014 02:19 PM
23. Obamacare was designed to lead to single payer because the Democrat leadership directed them to keep it complex and let the lobbyists who wrote the bill to put in enough trip wires and mandates to keep it from working so that single payer would be the next step. However, Obamacare is written so that single payer would require an overhaul done legislatively by Democrats. The assumption was made that the Democrats would remain in power - probably a stupid ass-umption though. Most Americans are pissed off now, espeicially the uninsured. In 2014, it doesn't look like a good year for the left. A GOP president in 2016 would likely spell the end of O-care.

Posted by: KDS on January 31, 2014 10:49 PM
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