A right-wing group dedicated to deterring young Americans from signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) placed an op-ed in several local papers praising false reports of low sign-up rates for millennials. However, recent enrollment data show strong support for the ACA among young people.
A recent piece in the The Tampa Tribune by the president of Generation Opportunity -- a Koch-backed anti-Affordable Care Act group -- Evan Feinberg, called the ACA a "total rip-off" and an attack on "our wallets" while wrongly suggesting the ACA will collapse by failing to win over millennials. Feinberg wrote, "the unspoken truth is the exchanges won't be able to make ends meet without our money." This exact piece appeared in several local outlets in mid-December and at the time criticized the initial enrollment numbers.
While Feinberg's piece might have had more merit in December -- when the available data showed slow enrollment, his latest applause for millennials' supposed failure to sign up for the ACA seems off the mark. According to statistics from the Department of Health and Human Services, youth enrollment increase eight-fold in the month of December. In fact, as many proponents of the law predicted, youth enrollment has mimicked the general enrollment patterns, with an initially slow enrollment in October and November followed by rapid acceleration over the month of December as deadlines for enrollment approached:
With projected youth enrollment expected to increase in the following months, the idea of the ACA's impending collapse due to a lack of youth participation seems implausible. As reported by The Washington Post's Ezra Klein, the fear of the "death spiral" predicted by opponents of the law "is over":
The risk of a "death spiral" is over. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that if the market's age distribution freezes at its current level -- an extremely unlikely scenario -- "overall costs in individual market plans would be about 2.4% higher than premium revenues." So, in theory, premiums costs might rise by a few percentage points. That's a problem, but it's nothing even in the neighborhood of a death spiral.
Feinberg's group, Generation Opportunity, is best known for its misleading and intimidating ads that showed a menacing Uncle Sam performing medical exams, a spot labeled by news organizations as not only "creepy" but "irresponsible and dangerous" in spreading health care falsehoods. As MSNBC explained in its report on reaction to the uncomfortable ads:
"It is hard to tell if this is real or if it's a 'Saturday Night Live' parody about the hypocrisy of extremists who want to be in every exam room in America but don't want to expand access to quality health care," said Eric Ferrero, vice president for communications at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. 'These are the same extreme Koch-funded political groups who have tried to pass trans-vaginal ultrasound laws and other laws allowing politicians to interfere with people's personal medical decisions. These videos are the height of hypocrisy, but more importantly they are irresponsible and dangerous, designed to spread misinformation and discourage people from getting access to high quality, affordable health care.'"