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Millennials are main target in the selling and success of Obamacare

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The success of Obamacare is in the hands of Generation Y. (Source: Wiki Commons/MGN Online) The success of Obamacare is in the hands of Generation Y. (Source: Wiki Commons/MGN Online)

(RNN) – The success or failure of Obamacare depends heavily on Generation Y, also known as millennials, the generation between ages 18 to 34 who have been raised on the internet and TV. That's why they have been the most prominent target of massive marketing campaigns both for and against the Affordable Care Act.

A growing number of politically confident Generation Y members stand strongly for or against the Affordable Care Act. They have produced and been the target of advertisements rallying those who share their beliefs. But many others are conflicted by politically charged, conflicting messages flooding both old and new media.

According to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in 2010, only 47 percent of Gen Y respondents "generally favored" Obamacare as it was being proposed in Congress. Because of those numbers, some commentary labeled Gen Y members "apathetic" because of their "lukewarm" attitudes regarding the legislation.

Now that the ACA is the law of the land, does Generation Y care about or understand Obamacare now?

With only 6 in 10 Gen Y members currently employed (with half of those part-time jobs), and with 18- to 34-year-olds shouldering most of the  $1 trillion in student loan debt, many millennials fear the costs of Obamacare threaten their financial future.

"Even though I listen to NPR and read several news sites, I'm not very clear about how Obamacare will impact me," said Erin Stewart, 24. "I try to be an active participant in the political process, but sometimes there's just too much information out there and a lot of it seems contradictory."

Stewart's reaction is borne out by the following survey.

Obamacare for millennials: by the numbers

These quick facts on Generation Y and Obamacare are complicated. According to The Fiscal Times:

  • According to Marketing Charts, there were 73.7 million people between the ages of 18 to 34 in July 2012.
  • Millennials may be reluctant to subscribe to Obamacare because they rarely rack up medical bills and are relatively healthy. In total, there are 19.1 million uninsured millennials, according to the last Census.
  • Of that number, 6 million have near poverty-level incomes, qualifying them for Medicaid. That leaves 9 million with incomes below $46,000 who would "receive government subsidies under Obamacare to offset the cost of purchasing insurance through an exchange" should they subscribe to Obamacare. The current poverty guideline for a single person in the U.S. is $11,490.
  • Excluding millennials with families (and their different insurance needs) and those who are still on their parents' insurance, there are approximately 4 million uninsured Gen Y members.
  • That means the Obama administration needs to convince at least 68 percent of the 4 million remaining to buy into Obamacare.
  • But in a poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation in June 2013, nearly 88 percent of young adults ages 18 to 30 said that it was "very important to have insurance." Favorability on Obamacare plays along party lines as well. The increase of interest contradicts the date in the previously mentioned Pew Research poll that found millennials "apathetic" and disinterested about Obamacare.

It boils down to three choices, according to The Fiscal Times: they could skip coverage and pay a tax penalty of 1 percent of their income in 2014; they could remain on their parents' health insurance until they are 26 years old, or they could purchase private insurance not associated with the exchange.

The dueling voices of Obamacare to millennials

One thing is certain - many millennials seem to have their own opinion on how Obamacare will affect them.

Drew Helm, 24, agreed that the Affordable Care Act is the Obama administration's cornerstone legislation, but believes the plan is underdeveloped and won't be good for him or the country. He is currently insured with a pre-existing condition, and paying for his own insurance.

"I think the guise of affordable health insurance is just that - a guise - because I have seen over the past year my health insurance rates more than double. It's [affordable health insurance] an oxymoron to me. My personal opinion is that I hope it does not go through due the lack of proper care and consideration that they took before passing it," Helm said. "It seems that the pressure to pass it outweighed the need for an in-depth look at what it would really accomplish."

Helm's beliefs are similar to those of Generation Opportunity, a self-described Libertarian group saying they are a "free-thinking, liberty-loving national organization of young people promoting the best of Being American: opportunity, creativity and freedom."

The group has used digital media in the growing marketing campaign against Obamacare, and has released several YouTube videos expressing problems they believe millennials will face if they buy into the ACA.

Generation Opportunity and other like-minded groups' have more aggressively marketed against Obamacare than those who favor it. Their output outweighs the positive ads 5-1, according to CNN.

But Obamacare detractors won't let internet-loving millennials forget that the ACA's website, healthcare.org, has been rattled with glitches and other issues. Furthermore, reports have come out that the Spanish-language healthcare website won't be ready for months and could be a problem for the nation's largest minority group.

Another anti-Obamacare website, dontfundobamacare.com, is an open petition website that features Republicans' stance on Obamacare and how they will vote. The site features tea party favorite Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX, and Sen. Mike Lee, R-UT speaking for the defunding of Obamacare.

While Helm's beliefs are widely held, many others, like Ashley Phillips, 25, support the Affordable Care Act. Phillips has a full-time job and receives healthcare from her employer, and has left her parents' insurance coverage.

"I care about the ACA because it is a solid step in the right direction toward a healthier America," said Phillips. "Is it perfect? No, and it never will be perfect or please everyone. My primary concern about 'defunding Obamacare' is that poor Americans will continue to go without necessary care that they cannot afford."

Phillips says she already benefits from certain aspects of Obamacare, for example, she takes advantage of wellness visits, and says that the encouragement to make regular check-ups deters her from waiting until she's sick to find a doctor.

"Sure, my premium might be higher, but that's because it includes the cost of, let's say, a 'free flu shot' will prevent me (and my insurance company) from spending much more on an illness," said Phillips. "If I still had the waitress job I had a year ago, I could get all of those same benefits from my parents' plan."

She also suggests for Millennials to visit the Kaiser Family Foundation website for the "straight-talk" on health reform.

Another blog that speaks directly to the heart of millennials and Obamacare is "Project Millennial," a collection of "for millennials, by millennials"-based healthcare discussions that don't play the political mind games that other sources might. Other popular website for millennials, like Buzzfeed, have compiled lists of ways the Obama administration has promoted his key legislation.

The bottom line is unclear

Whether millennials buy into President Barack Obama's signature piece of legislation will not only decide his legacy, but the healthcare of their aging parents and grandparents.

Millennials, despite their initial described apathy, have taken care to show that not all believe in the "young invincible" label they have been associated with, and want to prove they care about their health coverage now and in the future - despite the outcome of Obamacare.

Follow me on Twitter @TanitaG_RNN.

Copyright 2013 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

  • KTRE Online Poll

  • As a millennial (ages 18-34), are you for or against Obamacare?

  • Thank you for participating in our poll. Here are the results so far:

    For it - I support Obamacare and will enroll.
    18%
    25 votes
    Against it - I do not support Obamacare, and will not enroll.
    82%
    112 votes
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