Why the government cannot social-media the young into signing up for #Obamacare.

This morning, while running errands with kids in tow, I did something that I try not to do (and usually regret doing): I listened to CSPAN radio when they were taking comments. Normally, this is a mistake of epic proportions: CSPAN callers typically are like Youtube commenters who have been hit with an Evolvo-Ray, only it’s a prototype and there’s still that pesky stress atavism problem. In other words, you have to switch things back to classic rock pretty darn quick – only before I could, the poor panelists who couldn’t escape the onrushing black tide were gamely trying to work out how to get young people into the Obamacare exchanges. I believe that the consensus was: lots and lots of social media.


This all comes down to math. In order for the system to work, you need to get enough young people to sign up for health care plans. Young people typically don’t, largely because they think that they don’t need them. The government is trying to get around this by instituting an individual mandate. Now, let us assume the worst-case penalty (2016’s 2.5% of all income over $10,000, as per this fact sheet).  Let us also assume an average income of $45,000 (which is too high, probably, but it’s based on these numbers, so what the heck).  $35,000 (remember, everything over $10,000) x 2.5% = $875 individual mandate, per year.  Remember, that’s worst-case scenario: next year that same person will be paying a $350 penalty, because next year it’s only 1%.  Now, according to Kaiser’s exchange subsidy calculator the average price of a basic-level health care plan is going to be $3,018 per year; and if I’m playing with the calculator properly then there is no case where the subsidies are going to be enough to make compliance less expensive than non-compliance next year.  As it stands right now?  Cheaper to let the government reduce your tax refund by $350.  And if you get sick… hey, no more refusal to insure because  of preexisting conditions, right?

It is silly to assume that young people cannot do this kind of math; or that these at least mildly chilly equations can be countered with a YouTube ad, or a promoted Tweet, or a celebrity endorsement.  If the government wants to force young people to sign up for Obamacare, then the government will have to produce a real penalty: which is to say, more than it costs to opt-out.  That probably means a flat fee, and nasty repercussions for non-compliance.  I won’t give our current regulatory state any more bright ideas, but I’m sure that we can all think of some.  Government bureaucrats can think of more, I’m sure.  What’s more: they will, because the Democrats rather badly need Obamacare to ‘work.’  So they will very quickly institute some very unpopular enforcement mechanisms.

And when that happens, please remember: No Republican voted for Obamacare.  Because we knew this was going to happen.  We so totally knew.

Here endeth the lesson.

Moe Lane (crosspost)

PS: Note that I didn’t even bring up the employee mandate, largely because the Obama administration flat-out refuses to deal with that entire suite of problems before at least 2015.  Suffice it to say that if you’re not getting health care via your employer now, don’t expect to have it next year, either.

10 thoughts on “Why the government cannot social-media the young into signing up for #Obamacare.”

  1. I’m with you on this. It was unbelievably ‘naive’ of the Democrats to assume that the younger folks would buy something they didn’t need and obviously can’t afford. Add to that the poor economy where today’s college grads are unemployed or underemployed and whatever income they have is going to go for rent, food, and gas. Even if they’ve returned to their parents basement – there is no disposable income available for this abomination.

    Another thought…young people, having grown up in disconnected culture from many of the old mainstays of society, morally and ethically, and haven’t matured in their “love of country” journey are even less likely to participate in this debacle. All those low-information voters who thought this was going to be free are in for a rude awakening. I’m looking forward to eruptions.

    1. All those low-information voters who thought this was going to be free are in for a rude awakening.
      And these same low-information voters will be utterly convinced that the unexpected costs are all due to obstruction by the evil RethugliKKKans. The better-informed of them will be able to cite the articles in the Mushroom Media that informed them of this “fact.”
      Hey, look at all the people in the 1990s who knew that the “Contract on America” was a terrible, awful thing that was ruining the country.

  2. Indeed. I will be quite happy watching OfA prove their incompetence.
    They may have gotten twentysomethings to vote for their god-king, but I don’t think they can fool ’em into paying a dime more than necessary.
    When the digits to the left of the . on your paycheck number three, the o-care fine is .. significant .. and these kids seem a lot less willing to follow the rules blindly than the last batch.

  3. I don’t doubt the ability to do math, but the thinking ahead part. So first it will be – “I ain’t paying three grand a year” and then when the tax man comes “what, I have to pay $350 (or $875)? Man, **** Obama right in the ***” (and still vote for Democrats for 10 more years…)

    1. I wouldn’t bet on the last part, Darin.
      Many 20somethings are tuning out of politics altogether because they are disillusioned, thanks to the sky’s-the-limit promises and hype Obama engendered. Not all, but .. I’ll take what I can get.

      1. “But Obama wants to get rid of all my student loans and the evil Rethuglicans won’t let him”
        Sense of entitlement plus promise of free stuff… and yeah, I’m with you, I think the best scenario is that they just don’t show up to vote.

  4. Has anybody even done the math to see if there are enough young people to even pay for the Baby Boomers and how much they would have to make a year to make this thing work. I’ve never run across their work if they have. If there aren’t enough young people to pay for those already in the system Obamacare is dead, it just hasn’t figured it out yet.

    1. But ObamaCare isn’t intended to succeed, it’s intended to fail. So, for that matter, is Obama’s America.

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