There has been a lot of talk lately about “defunding” the ACA a.k.a. Obamacare, and how it is doomed to failure. One of the arguments to “prove” that it must fail is that a large proportion of the uninsured are young, healthy people who are “not going to buy insurance.” A recent study by the nonpartisan Commonwealth Fund shows that in reality, young adults will purchase health insurance if it is affordable, which it will be.
It will be a crucial factor, when the state and federal exchanges open in a couple of months, in determining the success or failure of the most far-reaching feature of the law. If young, healthy adults enroll in large numbers the program will be a success. This has been a point of contention with the right for some time now. They regularly tell us that these young adults will not buy insurance opting instead to accept the relatively small (for this year anyway) penalty. A recent Commonwealth Fund survey suggests otherwise.
The full title of the Commonwealth Fund Survey says it all:
New Survey of Young Adults: 7.8 Million Gained New or Better Coverage Through Affordable Care Act, But Only 27 Percent Are Aware of Health Insurance Marketplaces; Millions Will Remain Uninsured If States Don’t Expand Medicaid
This survey, taken in March, shows, according to Dr. David Blumenthal, president of the Commonwealth Fund, that, “Contrary to commonly held beliefs, young adults do want affordable health coverage.” This would seem to shoot the idea that they don’t bother with coverage because they feel “invincible” full of holes.
A full 82% of the uninsured young adults in the country would qualify for Medicaid or a subsidy under the ACA. Using the statistics from what young adults do when offered the opportunity to enroll in a healthcare policy through their employer the study extrapolated that large numbers of those between the ages of 19 and 29 will enroll willingly in a healthcare policy. The study does not express an opinion as to when or how quickly these people will entoll, but it would seem that, rather than invincibility, affordability is the biggest factor in whether or not young adults purchase health insurance.
Under the ACA, individuals with an income up to $45,960 (400% of poverty level) are eligible for a federal subsidy. The greatest proportion of those 18 to 29 who had turned down the opportunity to obtain insurance through an employer cited being covered by another family member’s policy (54%) followed by those who couldn’t afford the premiums (22%) while only 5% said that they didn’t think they needed it.
In Massachusetts when “Romneycare” was enacted with basically the same provisions the uninsured rates for the 18 to 26 demographic fell from 21% to 8% in the first year, why should we expect any different result when the same plan is put in place nationwide?
Also based on the Massachusetts model it appears that the greatest obstacle to a successful implementation of this law seems to be misinformation, lack of information and disinformation. A concentrated effort to get the real facts out to the public is what is needed to make the ACA work. It is not perfect and needs a fair amount of tweaking, as in it needs to morph into a single payer plan, but it is a start and as the old proverb says, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Watch President Obama destroy the GOP/Tea Party lies about Obamacare: