The idea they have is that by keeping younger, healthier people out of the health insurance exchanges, the new system will collapse as insurers have to take on a sicker population, and won't have the premiums from young people to cover them. But, according to a new study from the Commonwealth Fund, it doesn't seem like their big plan is going to work.
"Contrary to commonly held beliefs, young adults do want affordable health coverage," said Dr. David Blumenthal, president of the nonpartisan Commonwealth Fund. The group's study dispels the notion that young adults don't think they need coverage because they feel invincible, said lead author Sara Collins."Price is the biggest hurdle," to young people getting insurance, says Aaron Smith, co-founder of Young Invincibles, based on the research they've done. That's a non-profit that does education and conducts public policy research on issues affecting the young adults. It's not just research and public surveys that suggest this outcome, though. There's the experience of Massachusetts, where the uninsured rate among 19-to-26-year olds decreased from 21 percent to 8 percent after Romneycare kicked in.
Up to 82 percent of nearly 16 million uninsured young U.S. adults would qualify for federal subsidies or Medicaid under Obamacare, meaning that affordability is less likely to impede enrollment in health insurance via state exchanges, the study concludes. Those ages 19 to 29 will eventually enroll in large numbers, it predicts, without specifying how many years it could take.
That optimistic conclusion comes from what young adults do when offered an opportunity to buy health insurance through their jobs. In such cases, 67 percent took the coverage.
For those who declined, the chief reasons were that they were covered by a family member (54 percent) or couldn't afford the premiums (22 percent). Only 5 percent turned down coverage because they felt they were unlikely to need much medical care.
Young people are more likely to not sign up because they aren't aware that it's an option than because of any personal or political conviction against having health insurance, according to another Commonwealth poll, which found that "only 27 percent of the 19-to-29-year olds were aware of the state health insurance marketplaces." So, actually, FreedomWorks might be doing Obamacare a big favor by reaching out to this cohort and letting them know that they're being offered health insurance. Otherwise, they might not have heard about it.