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Wednesday
Dec182013

Obamacare, Millenials, and the Magic Number: 40%

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Five days before the first major Obamacare enrollment deadline, it’s an all-out battle to attract the young and healthy.

On Wednesday, Organizing for Action, the president’s independent advocacy group, launched a social media blitz urging uninsured millennials to “have the talk” about health care.

Other video ad campaigns already underway:  Paul Bunyan on water skis makes the pitch in Minnesota; in Oregon, a guitar-strumming hipster sells Obamacare with a catchy tune; frat boys doing keg stands try to capture attention in Colorado; and then, a dancing Obama impersonator spoofs Snoop to tell kids “sign up ‘cause it’s hot.”

Insurance companies are joining the blitz, too. WellPoint reportedly plans to spend $100 million by the end of the year on an ad campaign.

Health industry experts tell us the stakes are high:  if fewer than 40 percent of all enrollees for 2014 are young adults ages 18-34, then future premiums could skyrocket.

And so far, states have a long way to go to hit that target.  

Of the nine states that have released demographic data on their enrollees, none have reached the magic mark of 40 percent. In California, for example, only 22 percent of sign-ups have been young adults. Kentucky says 20 percent of its sign-ups are 18-34, while Colorado has reported just 17 percent. 

The White House refuses to release age data for sign-ups at HealthCare.gov.

How much higher could premiums go?

If young adults make up just 25 percent of sign-ups in a given state, for example, insurers would have to raise premiums by at least 2.4 percent next year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. That would mean a family of four making more than $94,200 a year would see premiums rise $223.  A 27-year-old making $25,000 would see a $42 a year increase.

Industry and administration officials stress that it is still early and that young people still have more than three months to sign up. They also say the expectation has always been that young, healthy people will enroll late in the process, as was the case in Massachusetts. The enrollment period closes on March 31.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio