In preparation for the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration took its message to college campuses like the University of Oklahoma to sign up as many students as possible. They've even brought on board Lady Gaga, Jennifer Hudson, Amy Poehler and other celebrities to help convince millennials that the exchanges are cool.
Apparently they think millennials are gullible. But no veneer of popularity can mask the exchange system's deep problems. The simple fact is that they're a bad deal for young people. As a result, it makes more financial sense for millennials to opt out and buy a non-Obamacare policy on the private market.
The most obvious problem with the exchange system is how it perversely takes from the young to subsidize the old. That's why the White House is so dead-set on getting young people to sign up — without our money, the exchanges will enter a “death spiral.”
What's missing in this political calculus is the realization that young people are the least able to afford health care. Student loan debt is sky-high and rising. Young people have a 16.1 percent unemployment rate. And yet Obamacare will increase their premiums by an average of 169 percent! That's beyond unaffordable.
My generation's concerns with Obamacare don't end with the costs. Another sticking point is the law's “Federal Data Services Hub.” This term is at best a euphemism; the Data Hub is an enormous database of every participant's private medical records, tax and financial info, legal history and other intimate information that we probably wouldn't want out in the open. It's basically an NSA-esque database of TMI — too much information.
And there are way too many hands in the cookie jar. Local law enforcement, insurance companies and innumerable low-level federal bureaucrats will have access to that data. Even the law's “navigators” — employees from politically controversial nongovernmental groups — will have access to the database's secrets.
Thankfully, millennials do have one remaining option: opt out of Obamacare. This path allows them to pay a small penalty, which then frees them to get health insurance outside of the exchange system. That insurance can be specifically tailored to their individual needs — and it won't have the drawbacks that make the exchange system so unappealing.
Young people can actually end up saving a substantial amount of money by taking this road. A recent study by the National Center for Public Policy Research estimates that 3.7 million young Americans will save at least $500 each. Roughly 3 million will save as much as $1,000 each. Opting out is thus an attractive option for millennials, who tend to be healthy and need a greater share of each paycheck.
Of course, the alternative is for them to join an exchange system that picks their pockets and shares their secrets. No celebrity is popular enough to gloss over that.
Feinberg is president of Generation Opportunity (www.generationopportunity.org).