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Young Americans Can Make or Break Obamacare

Topics: Current Events

A big part of the president’s healthcare reform plan is to extend coverage to those who need it most – the old, the poor and the young. To make it affordable, the program relies on young, presumably healthy, adults to opt in. If they don’t, they pay a fine. But what if they opt to get penalized instead of sign on up? What would that do to the Affordable Care Act?

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Fox Business calls it a potential snag. Obamacare mandates citizens to enroll for health coverage by next year or pay an opt-out fee. If the insurance system has enough healthy members, it lowers premiums for older enrollees. 

A poll by the American Action Network, a nonprofit advocacy group that promote center-right public policy, finds that young people tend to want to opt out, though. That doesn’t bode well for their elderly counterparts. Nearly half – 45 percent – answered that they’d rather drop health insurance instead of pay rising premiums.

The survey says premiums will skyrocket in 2014 and that those in the 18-40 age group will pick paying a penalty over those jacked-up prices. Eighty-three percent of the 801 adults polled online told the network they will buy insurance if premiums increase 10 percent. Sixty-five percent would if premiums climb 20 percent. And 55 percent would buy if premiums grow 30 percent.

“The design says that we will get young adults in the pool to subsidize care, but the poll finds that might not work,” American Action Forum President Douglas Hotlz-Eakin tells Fox Business. “Young adults support parts of the ACA, but when push comes to shove, they have a price point for a commodity and will look at the numbers and decide to pay the penalty.”

Hotlz-Eakin says young people need more incentive to sign up in the first place. This reform law doesn’t promise enough, he says.

“As the polling results show, once premium costs rise, there will be significant drop off among younger adults,” writes Emily Egan on the American Action website.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you plan to sign up for the Affordable Care Act or would you rather pay the fine? Share your stories in the comments or join the discussion on Twitter.

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(Photo Credit: Fotos GOVBA/Flickr)

Jennifer Wadsworth
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