Finally, some good news for the Obama administration.
Despite two solid months of technological disasters, significant delays, low enrollment numbers and millions of cancelled insurance policies, the group most crucial to Obamacare’s success hasn’t given up on it yet.
Millennials, ages 18-34, overwhelmingly believe the president’s signature healthcare law will work. That’s according to a new CNN poll released Tuesday that shows seven in 10 young Americans are optimistic about Obamacare’s future.
This is good news for the White House, which is desperately counting on at least 2.7 million of these young people to sign up for health insurance through the exchanges to offset the cost of the law. Since Millennials are typically healthy and rarely rack up expensive medical bills, their monthly premiums would make it cheaper for the federal and state exchanges to affordably insure 4.3 million other Americans.
Though the administration hasn’t revealed how many young Americans nationwide have enrolled in the exchanges so far, the numbers are almost certainly far from where they need to be. That’s because just 106,000 Americans overall had selected policies in October—well below the administration’s original estimate of 500,000.
But since the open enrollment period doesn’t end until March, some advocates suggest Millennials are just waiting until the last minute to sign up for coverage.
“While older and sicker people have good reason to more aggressively try to get covered, the younger, healthier people aren’t likely to exhibit much patience with a balky website, “They’ll probably wait until the last minute,” Natalie Villacorta noted in Politico. “They’re likely to put off the mandatory insurance sign up until much closer to the March 2014 deadline.
Advocates routinely point to Massachusetts in 2007, where the enrollment numbers for Bay Staters 35-years-old and younger more than doubled in the final month of open enrollment. The White House anticipates – or at least hopes -- Obamacare enrollments will follow a similar pattern.
Some experts, however, say comparing the Massachusetts exchange to the federal exchange is unfair, since only a relatively small portion of the state’s population lacked insurance at that time. Also, Massachusetts had a much longer open enrollment period of 15 months, compared to just six months for Obamacare. And the Massachusetts program didn’t suffer from widespread technical problems that prevented people from enrolling. - Follow Brianna Ehley on Twitter @BriannaEhley
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This article was updated at 2:36 p.m.