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YOLO COUNTY NEWS
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The Young Invincibles are key to ACA success

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From page A12 | December 15, 2013 | 12 Comments

The issue: It’s a challenge to sell health plans to youths who are convinced they’ll never need them

The problem for the Obama administration in pitching the Affordable Care Act is that young, healthy adults are, well, young, healthy adults. While intellectually they know it may not be so, at an emotional level they believe life will always be this way.

Sickness, injury and old age are what happen to someone else, and that badly mistaken belief has caused health care specialists to dub these millennials the “Young Invincibles.”

UNFORTUNATELY, for the ACA this demographic is vital to the finances of the health care exchanges; the participation and premiums of the young and healthy offset the higher medical costs of an older generation.

In the states where signups for the new plan have been most successful — California, Kentucky and Maryland — nearly a quarter of enrollees are 35 and younger but that’s well short of the goal of getting 28 percent of young adults nationwide to sign up by the 2014 enrollment period ends in March.

Congressional Republicans, who have given up on their futile campaign to repeal Obamacare, are now trying to ensure that it doesn’t work, or at least doesn’t work well, and have been running ads deriding the act, especially for younger people.

According to the newspaper The Hill, “polls show the ‘young invincibles’ key to making the law work are becoming less likely to enroll.”

A survey by Harvard this month showed that the administration does indeed have cause to worry: 61 percent of people ages 18 to 29 disapproved of the president’s handling of health care, 57 percent disapproved of the Affordable Care Act itself and 44 percent think the quality of their health care will get worse.

THE WHITE HOUSE recently hosted a Youth Summit of young millennials ageS 18 to 35 to whip up enthusiasm for signing up through rallies, campus conferences and social media. The president even suggested that bartenders talk up the health care act during happy hour.

Maybe the bartenders can overcome the problem pointed out by Spence Griffin, executive producer of the website CollegeHumor: “Health care is about the most boring subject to a 22-year-old there is.”

The actuarial tables guarantee that older generations can tell the younger generations as they become not so invincible, “We told you so.” That won’t do much for their physical health but it will be a tonic to their mental well-being.

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Discussion | 12 comments

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  • Chris LambertDecember 15, 2013 - 7:53 am

    It is not surprising that the ACA approval rating among youth is low, considering what a clunky mess it is. I think it is perfectly obvious to many that it was simply a sneaky way to preserve the for-profit insurance-based healthcare system while selling it as a social good. We could have simply extended Medicare to cover all ages, and joined most of the world's developed nations in providing medical care as a human right. Why do people think it proper to have public education, police protection, and national defense, but not public healthcare?

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  • ontDecember 15, 2013 - 7:50 pm

    “simply extended Medicare” The word “simply” is carrying a back-breaking load in that sentence considering our political culture and system. To say that the ACA was “simply a sneaky way to preserve the for-profit insurance...” casually dismisses the benefit to a lot of people who will now have coverage for the first time. Also, it’s been acknowledged many times by the president that the idea was to work within the current employer-based and private insurance system and that it was an incremental step. Nothing would have gotten done if the only proposal was all or nothing, single payer or bust.

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  • MLDecember 16, 2013 - 10:48 am

    Why should youth sign up for the ACA when they can be covered by Mom and Dad's plan until they are 26? Besides, Medicare is bankrupt and has an astronomical fraud rate. And if health care is free, what is next, free food? Well, I guess Obama has already done that with a massive expansion of Food Stamps. Meanwhile, our debts grow ever more vast.

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  • MLDecember 16, 2013 - 11:03 am

    "Congressional Republicans ... are now trying to ensure that it [ACA] doesn’t work, or at least doesn’t work well" Huh? The ACA is law. Obama and his crew selected the contractor (no bid) to implement the ACA website at an astronomical cost that recent reports suggest may top $1 Billion. And it doesn't work well. They're had over 3 years to build it, and this Act has been a dream of the Left for decades. And right now, it's a flop. Even Jon Stewart sees this ongoing travesty.

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  • greg johnsonDecember 15, 2013 - 10:19 am

    Obamacare is the product of incompetents and dreamers. The concepts are nice but real world implementation will continue to be a disaster. Of course the republicans don't support it. Of course they tried to repeal it and still would like to see it derailed. The majority never embraced it, but the all-knowing government thought they knew best. The assumption that the young would subsidize it was the epitome of foolishness. Getting the vote of the young is one thing, getting their money is another. REPEAL!!!

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  • December 15, 2013 - 5:18 pm

    Let's see, the Democrats constructed ACA, not one GOP wanted it or voted for it, the GOP has warned all along that it wouldn't work and everything they've said would go wrong has, but now somehow it's their fault because they aren't supporting or fixing it. Another good, fair editorial. NOT!

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  • ontDecember 15, 2013 - 7:48 pm

    yep "everything they've said" has come to pass starting with seniors being killed left and right by those death panels

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  • ontDecember 15, 2013 - 7:55 pm

    If “real world implementation” fails then there will be no constituency for it to continue with or without your hyperventilating online about it. It seems to me you’re afraid it will work, hence the frantic calls to end it just as enrollments start quickly increasing. As far as whether it is folly to expect younger people to buy health insurance, they do it all the time when offered the option at work, despite “subsidizing” older employees. And here in California where the GOP sabotage effort is less effective, at the moment youth enrollment in the exchange is close to approaching their proportion of the population.

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  • greg johnsonDecember 15, 2013 - 9:57 pm

    In a more worrisome trend, Californians aged 45 to 64 accounted for 45,945 enrollees, or 58 percent of the total. They make up 25 percent of the population. There is concern that if older adults make up too much of the insurance pool, their often-higher medical claims will also threaten the plans. IT WON'T WORK. What I'm concerned about is that it stays in place and inflicts a fatal wound on the economy. I don't want to see people uninsured. AND, why couldn't the dems have passed single payer since they had the votes. I'm not in favor of that but I like it better than what happened. Don't give us BS about Obama wanting to work within the current system. And, why don't you use your name? Maybe so that if this doesn't work, you can snipe under a new pseudonym???

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  • ontDecember 16, 2013 - 4:48 pm

    If you’re not using one already, you might want to look into a pseudonym. Because people who claim to know the future beyond doubt (“IT WON’T WORK”) tend to look pretty foolish when it turns out they were wrong. The Democratic party is not a monolith. Do you think the politics and constituencies of Nancy Pelosi and Ben Nelson are the same or even close to the same? There weren’t even the votes for a weak version of the public option, never mind strong public option, or especially single payer. So we ended up with the plan agreeable to the most conservative Democrats, one with additional regulation of the insurance industry, the exchanges, and Medicaid eligibility expansion. Yes, that would all be working within the current system. Show me where the BS is. Besides your claim that you would have preferred getting rid of much of the insurance industry over just putting in place additional regulations on it, that is.

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  • greg johnsonDecember 16, 2013 - 7:04 pm

    So, I guess I'm right about why you don't want to use your own name? You're right, I can't be sure of the future. If Obamacare fulfills its promises (deficit reduction, everyone insured, lower rates, and "you can keep your plan and doctor if you like them"), I will be happy to say that I was wrong, and congratulate the president and architects of the plan. Why don't you put your name behind the assertion that it will achieve its goals??

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  • ontDecember 18, 2013 - 11:12 pm

    Unlike you I didn’t make a grand prediction. I hope it works and believe that being the law of the land it deserves a chance to succeed. There are precedents that show it can work if given a chance. After a slow, glitchy rollout of the website that was supposed to doom the entire ACA if the hysterical media was believed, enrollments are climbing quickly. A very similar program has already been implemented in Massachusetts although admittedly there wasn’t a campaign by right-wing ideologues to undermine enrollment there and advise young people to be deadbeats.

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