ABC News argues today that the perception of younger Americans refusing to buy comprehensive health insurance is mistaken, based on a long survey conducted by Kaiser Family Foundation. According to the survey, “the political lens is the most important,” and the politics of younger Americans leans more toward participating. Or should that verb be leaned?
What does Kaiser know about the demographics of the two groups?
“Those who don’t plan to get coverage actually skew a bit older,” says Brodie. “Twenty percent of those who don’t plan to get coverage are under age 30, compared to 34 percent of those who do.”
Politics, it seems, is a defining difference between the haves and have-nots. …
Some 58 percent of California’s eligible uninsured (ages 18-34) said they planned to get health coverage–similar or higher than the older uninsured. Says Brodie, referring to both the national and the California surveys, “We see no evidence in either project that the young uninsured are less interested in signing up.”
Well, we’ve seen some of that evidence in the pattern of enrollments — or more accurately, sign-ups. Only 365,000 had selected a plan in the federal and state exchanges through the end of November, and the demographics reported by the states showed that younger and healthier enrollees came to a mid-20% range, far below the 38% or so needed by insurers to force escalating premiums.
The difference would be when the key survey cited by ABC News took place. Kaiser’s national poll took place in November, but ABC doesn’t reveal the dates or the survey size, or much of anything else about it except some allusions to the topline. (No small wonder, either — the Kaiser tracking poll in November produced relentlessly negative outcomes for ObamaCare, and nowhere reported sign-up trends for younger Americans.) The California poll is where ABC derives most of its claim, and note carefully the methodology and when the survey was taken:
The California poll was conducted by Kaiser from July 11 through August 29, 2013. It queried by phone a representative sample of 2,001 California adults between the ages 19 to 64 who said they had been living without health insurance for at least two months at the time of the interview. The margin of error for the 19-34 year olds (on whom most of the poll’s findings are based) is plus or minus 6 percentage points.
Plus or minus six points? That’s a fairly wide MOE for any poll, especially for the key demo in a poll. It includes only Californians, which isn’t necessarily the most representative state for “the political lens.” Also, this wasn’t really a random survey of adults or voters, but one that focused on a group that hadn’t had insurance coverage when surveyed. As the November national poll showed, that would only be 18% of the general population. That leaves out anyone who had insurance before ObamaCare got imposed, including those who may have had insurance they liked that got cancelled because it didn’t meet the ObamaCare mandate rules and who will now have to pay a fortune in premiums and deductibles before accessing any benefits at all.
But most importantly, those issues weren’t known to the survey audience at the time of the poll. The last date of the survey was nearly a month before HHS released the approved exchange premium prices, and before the increased deductibles became apparent. It’s about six weeks before insurers began flooding mailboxes with cancellations, too, which added a lot more people to the ranks of the soon-to-be-uninsured that ObamaCare has added in the other direction — 5.2 million to 365,000.
Where do we find the data showing that actual sign-ups skew older and not younger? Er, from Kaiser itself — in late November, too:
Reuters: Early Obamacare Data Show Older Americans More Apt To Sign Up
More older Americans than young adults so far have signed up for new insurance coverage under the state marketplaces created by President Barack Obama’s health care law, according to early data from four states reporting details on their enrollment. The age balance is being closely watched to determine the financial stability of the insurance market created by the Affordable Care Act, as the participation of younger people is needed to offset costs for sicker beneficiaries (Krauskopf, 11/20).
The Wall Street Journal‘s Washington Wire: Connecticut’s Early Health Enrollees Skew Older
Are older Americans enrolling in health insurance plans in greater numbers than young adults? Early enrollment figures released by two states suggest that could be the case. Data released Tuesday by Connecticut officials show that more people over the age of 55 enrolled in private insurance (40%) than people under the age of 35 (26%). The figures represented enrollment in private health plans as of Nov. 15 (Schatz, 11/19).
CNN: Obamacare Enrollments Pick Up Steam But Don’t Include Many Young People
Obamacare might be off to a slow start but it’s starting to pick up steam, at least in states that are not using the beleaguered HealthCare.gov website. Blocked out at HealthCare.gov? Bypass on way soon, feds say. For the past month, CNN has conducted a state-by-state survey to determine enrollment in the new insurance plans. As of Tuesday afternoon, at least 133,257 people had chosen new insurance plans in the 14 states with their own signup apparatuses. Nearly half of them were enrolled in the past two weeks (Hellerman, 11/19).
In this case, we won’t need a poll to tell us how this turns out. Younger people are balking so far at paying exorbitant premiums for benefits they’ll never access just to subsidize the premiums of older and less healthy Americans. That’s the difference between taking a survey when these issues were still theoretical, and watching the actual behavior when the issues become reality.
Note: I’m still on leave until Monday, and I want to thank Hot Air readers for their many messages of support as we settle arrangements for my sister-in-law Mary’s passing.