What’s the lesson from all of this? That the media needs to stop uncritically repeating the Obama administration numbers, which give Obamacare’s “slacker mandate” credit for things it has nothing to do with: namely, growth in government health care, and the broader recovery from the Great Recession. Importantly, talking about the mandate’s effects on coverage for young adults ignores the higher premiums paid by everyone else as a result.
Based on the best evidence we have, the under-26 mandate is responsible for at most around 900,000 to 1,000,000 newly covered individuals. In all likelihood, the real figure is smaller than that. What we do know is that there is no real evidence for the 3 million figure, and any credible reporter who says otherwise is being snookered by the White House.