One of the big assumptions of Obamacare is that young, mostly healthy individuals will buy health insurance.
But what if you give a party and no one comes?
That is what the folks at KHN ponder.
Getting sufficient enrollment, especially from the young and healthy, is vital to holding down premium costs in those markets. The concern is that if all the sick people flood the exchanges and younger, healthier ones hang back, health care costs will spike, along with premiums.
Yet one of the biggest reasons for the anemic initial enrollment in the county program that began in 2006, called Vita Health, and similar programs is that many healthy people don't believe they need insurance and are reluctant to spend even nominal amounts to purchase it, say organizers.
“A lot of people who are uninsured and can afford it, don’t buy it because they aren’t sick,” said Paul Gionfriddo, a consultant who formerly led an alliance in Palm Beach County to help the uninsured.
I run into this all the time. Many of my under age 27 clients only have health insurance because their parents found a plan and are paying the premium.
Of course let's not forget that Obamacare age compression means premiums for those under age 35 will increase at a higher percentage than those age 55+.
But persuading millions of people to buy insurance, even those eligible for subsidies, is still expected to be a very tough sell. The Obama administration, which will run the marketplaces in at least 33 states has yet to release any details of its marketing campaign designed to let people know about new insurance options and how to enroll.
I wonder how much of our tax dollars will be used to advertise free and almost free health insurance?
Isn't it bad enough we are advertising welfare benefits in Mexico, now we have to promote a health insurance plan that most people don't want?
In Florida, another effort to reduce the uninsured, JaxCare, also suffered from low enrollment. JaxCare, which started in Jacksonville in 2004, was marketed as low-cost coverage for small employers. Employers could get low-income workers covered for $50 a month. But two years after it began, fewer than 500 people had signed up, or less than a third of those projected. Jaxcare, which closed in 2008 when city funding ran out, finally did reach its goal of covering 1,500 people, but it took nearly four years.
Sounds like PCIP.
Enrollment in the national plan for those with pre-existing conditions was anemic. Eventually insurance agents were paid a finders fee for referring people to the plan.
The bounty offer lasted about 6 months and many agents never got paid for many of their referrals. Then PCIP ran out of money and abruptly closed new enrollments with only a few days notice.
No way this will happen with Obamacare.