A new survey says less than a third of uninsured adults younger than 30 — a demographic vital to making Obamcare work — say they are likely to enroll in private health insurance through a marketplace tied to President Obama’s law.
The Harvard University Institute of Politics found that among young people do not have insurance now, 13 percent they “definitely will enroll” and 16 percent say they “probably will enroll” in coverage through one of the exchanges set up under the Affordable Care Act.
They said 41 percent of uninsured young adults were “50-50” on whether to enroll in coverage through the exchanges.
The Obama administration is counting on young, healthy people to enroll in the exchanges so premiums do not soar when sicker patients with preexisting conditions enter the exchange’s risk pools, because they can no longer be denied coverage.
Republican critics of the overhaul say young people are not signing up because the law is unattractive to them. They say the framers of the law essentially asked young, healthy people to subsidize sicker people’s care on the individual market by paying higher health premiums than they would, pre-Obamacare.
“The young and healthy are not signing up, which is bad news,” Rep. Kevin Brady, Texas Republican, said Wednesday at a Ways and Means’ subcommittee hearing on the law’s challenges.
“Without the right mix of young and old, healthy and sick, health care premiums for 2015 will skyrocket, access to care will become more limited and insurers may no longer offer coverage,” he added.
Uninsured Americans who can afford health coverage but refuse to obtain it next year are subject to a penalty under the law’s individual mandate. However, the penalty will be as low as $95 during the first year, so it may not compel some Americans to shell out money for health insurance.
A new Gallup survey released this week painted a rosier picture for the law, finding young people are not significantly more likely than older people to eschew coverage and pay the fine.
Among people under 30 years old, 68 percent told Gallup they will acquire insurance — it does not specify whether it will be through the exchanges — and 26 percent say they’ll pay the fine. Those older than 30 produced a 60-30 percent split.
“The fact that younger uninsured Americans are no more likely than older uninsured Americans to say they will pay the fine could be a positive sign for the law’s ability to keep insurance affordable, assuming that the younger uninsured are no less healthy than the older uninsured,” Gallup said.
The Harvard poll, part of a broad look at “millennial viewpoints,” says young adults disapprove instead of approve of the health care law, by 56 percent to 39 percent.
The results slide further in opposition to Mr. Obama’s reforms by one percentage point when the term “Affordable Care Act” is replaced with “Obamacare.”