President Donald Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan are telling us Obamacare is in a “death spiral,” and the only solution is to repeal it. According to them, rising premiums, high deductibles and government-regulated plans are forcing people from the insurance market. But they also are trying to keep hidden from us ways to repair and save Obamacare.
Half of what they are saying is true. Premiums and deductibles have risen for a minority number of people buying insurance through the healthcare exchanges. Among the ones hit hardest by these increases are Millennials.
This is ironic, because Millennials are both the saviors of, and the hazards to, Obamacare. A Kasier Family Foundation survey found that 40% of healthcare exchange sign-ups have to be Millennials in order for these programs to be cost-effective. Since the first open enrollment in 2014, Millennial sign-ups have never risen above 30%.
This has created a condition within the healthcare exchanges known to the insurance industry as “adverse selection.” More sick people are using insurance than there are healthy people paying for insurance.
Contrary to what opponents of Obamacare will tell you, this is the main reason for rising premiums and high deductibles. It’s also why some places have been left with only one insurance provider.
The solution is not as complex as Republicans claim. It boils down to getting more Millennials to sign up. All exchanges must reach the 40% threshold. So the main focus must be on Millennials and doing whatever is feasible to attract them.
There are five ways to appeal directly to the self-interest of Millennials to sign up for Obamacare.
1) Create a tax break for all Millennials. Millennials would be able to write off 75% of all out-of-pocket health care costs. Being the healthiest age group, Millennials don’t need much medical
When they get sick, their first move is not to call the doctor but to go online to Web M.D. Since they require the least amount of healthcare their out-of-pocket costs will be relatively low. Hence the hit to government coffers on the tax write-off will be low as well. This is a win-win-win for millennials, the health of the exchanges and the government.
2) Change the penalty for not signing up for insurance. Currently it’s cheaper to pay the fine for not having insurance than it is to buy insurance. The new fine should be five hundred dollars more than the cheapest bronze plan in the state where the Millennial resides.
3) Create special Millennial-only insurance plans.
Expand the required ten essential benefits to twelve for millennial plans only. Obama regulations mandate that all insurance plans public or private cover ten categories.
Two categories are not mandated. These two happen to be medical services that even healthy Millennials have a need for.
Of all age groups Millennials have the most diverse eating and drinking habits, making dental care a must. Many also need vision care and assistance purchasing eyeglasses.
The Obama healthcare exchanges should offer bronze, silver and gold plans exclusively to Millennials that add vision and dental to the ten mandated categories.
4) Provide 24/7 year-round enrollment for Millennials. Because they are the MVPs of Obamacare, Millennial enrollees should always be welcomed.
There should be a stipulation for any sign-ups after the annual open enrollment ends. Preventive care and prescription drug benefits would start immediately, but there would be a 45-day waiting period for surgical or catastrophic care.
This waiting period would serve as a deterrent to people waiting until they get sick to sign up. As mentioned earlier, Millennials require the least amount of medical care. Year-round sign-ups shouldn’t burden the system because Millennials put more in (premiums) than they take out (medical treatment).
5) Be honest and appeal to the Millennial heart. Rather than talk at Millennials through celebrity endorsements, talk to them.
The first thing we need to do is be honest with ourselves and be honest with Millennials. They are the true power behind
Obamacare. It can’t work without Millennials putting in more than they take out.
We should admit this reality to them, apologize for the inconvenience and humbly ask for their help. Millennials were raised with the same set of basic core principles that all Americans were raised with.
According to a study done by the United States Council of Economic Advisers, Millennials are not just virtually connected via social networks, they value the role they play in their communities.
High school seniors today are more likely than previous generations to state that making a contribution to society is very important to them. They want to be leaders in their communities.
The study also states that this community-mindedness includes a strong connection to family. Almost half of respondents said it was important to them to live close to family and friends. This was compared to 29% of Baby Boomers and 40% of Generation Xers.
All Millennials have had or do have grandparents and parents. Explaining to Millennials how their participation in Obamacare affects the quality of healthcare that their grandparents and parents receive must be combined with a second step.
The second step is asking Millennials to make this sacrifice and commitment for the betterment of our society. To give back to the community that has nurtured their growth and development.
Millennials who feel they are already making a sacrifice in other ways should think of this as an investment.
The healthy Millennials now carry the weight of the older, less healthy, more sickness-prone older generation. Millennials must be willing to do this now so that when they become the older generation, there will be a new generation who will carry the Millennial generation’s weight.
This would be America’s equivalent of Israel asking all its Millennials to serve two years of military service. Israeli
Millennials do this gladly to secure the safety of Israel.
American Millennials have the same commitment to our country and will gladly step up if asked. This can be their moment of valor.
Republicans and President Trump should get over thinking that healthcare is not a right American citizens are entitled to. Obamacare has made that antiquated thinking.
Political considerations for both Democrats and Republicans have no place in our healthcare debate. The right best thing for all Americans is for Democrats and Republicans to come together and repair Obamacare. Millennials, please step up and help us all!
Isaac Newton Farris Jr. is the nephew of Martin Luther King, Jr. and serves as Senior Fellow at the King Center. Growing up in one of the most socially and politically active families has given him a unique perspective into current events. Drop by his blog for straight talk free of one-sided political spin.