If there’s one thing that feeds the ObamaCare beast, it’s young, healthy consumers — the same people who voted and worked to put Barack Obama in the White House twice. In order for the system to work, insurers need to get them into the system, paying exorbitant premiums for services they will likely never use, in order to keep prices down for older, less healthy Americans who not coincidentally tend to be more politically engaged. Gallup inadvertently tested that hypothesis and proved it its latest survey:
Americans younger than 30, a key group targeted by the Affordable Care Act, continue to be the least familiar with it. Another important group, those with lower incomes, are less familiar with the healthcare law than are those with higher incomes.
The new healthcare law’s success will rest at least partially on young Americans’ enrollment rates, given the need to have uninsured but healthy younger people sign up for insurance to help subsidize the cost of healthcare for those who are older and more likely to require benefits. These young people need to be familiar with the law if they can be expected to respond to its mandate requiring them to have insurance. There is clearly still work to be done on that front — with younger Americans significantly less acquainted with the law than those who are older.
That may be a blessing for Obama, since this law tends to get less attractive the more one becomes familiar with it:
Those who are familiar with the healthcare law are significantly more likely to oppose it than those who are not familiar with it. Among those familiar with the law, net approval is -19 percentage points, slightly more negative than is the case for the overall population. Those who are unfamiliar with the law are evenly divided, with 41% approving and 43% disapproving.
The overall approval rating for ObamaCare is now 40/54, and there is still plenty of downside left among the low-information adults in the survey. Just wait until most of them lose their employer-based coverage before the midterm elections, eleven months from now or sooner.
The Washington Post’s Sean Sullivan doesn’t think that the ignorance of youth is a good sign for Obama, though. The President needs young voters to become activists for his law, and — more importantly — make themselves subject to it:
A new Gallup poll shows that Americans age 18-29 are less familiar with the federal health-care law than any other age group. While 63 percent say they are familiar with the law, that’s nine to 12 percentage points lower than older demographics. An August Kaiser Family Foundation poll, meanwhile, showed that 43 percent of Americans age 18-25 and 41 percent of those between 26 and 35 had heard nothing about their new state insurance exchanges. By comparison, just 33 percent of all adults said the same thing.
Why does the lag matter? In short, because Obama needs a lot of young, healthy people to enroll in plans offered through the exchanges in order to keep premiums down and make the system work as it was designed. Specifically, he needs about 40 percent of enrollees to be younger than 35. (Sarah Kliff gives you everything you need to know about these so-called “young invincibles” over on Wonkblog.)
It certainly doesn’t help the president that young people seem to be the least attuned to the new law. What’s more, early problems with the federal health-care exchange Web site didn’t make it an easier for the administration to woo the young people it badly needs to sign up for coverage. …
Thanks in large part to the young, Obama won two terms in office. Now, the same youthful demographic will decide whether his signature legislation succeeds or falls flat.
When they see that they will have to pay thousands of dollars for comprehensive coverage they don’t need and spend thousands of dollars on deductibles before the first benefit is paid, young Americans will likely opt to pay retail and the fine and save themselves a lot of money. If disaster strikes, they can buy insurance at that point to cover it, thanks to the law Obama passed. Obama’s only real hope is that the youth remain ignorant and follow like sheep into the shearing yard. They’ve done it twice so far for Obama even with the economic incentives clearly marked out for them the second time, and there’s no reason to think they’re wising up yet.
Update: Right on time, here comes a pivot attempting to keep them distracted.