Despite giving residents another 48 hours this year to sign up for a mandatory health plan, Covered California saw first-time enrollments fall to 412,000, down 6 percent from 439,000 last year, according to exchange spokesman James Scullary.
Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee issued a statement that the state’s Obamacare co-op did see total enrollment inch up by 100,000 to 1.5 million — a figure that assumes all automatically re-enrolled customers continue to pay their premiums.
Lee commented in December that survey research among potential Covered California enrollees found political uncertainty about the future of the legislation created some concern, but potential customer’s biggest concern is this year’s 13 percent higher monthly premiums.
Lee seemed thankful that Covered California’s enrollment of 18-to-34-year-olds this year remained at a national high of 37 percent. He commented: “Covered California is continuing to enroll consumers in large numbers and with a good mix of younger and older, which helps keep rates down for everyone and keeps the entire individual market stable.”
Obamacare was designed to achieve a goal of 40 percent millennial membership, so that healthy 18-to-34 year olds could subsidize medical costs for older and sicker customers.
But despite President Barack Obama’s repeated outreach efforts with celebrities — including Lady Gaga, Jennifer Hudson, Olivia Wilde, John Legend, Pearl Jam, Scarlett Johansson and dozens more — millennials make up less than 30 percent of Obamacare’s national membership.
Low millennial membership explains why at least 17 of the 23 Obamacare state co-op exchanges have failed. The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which provided $2.4 billion in start-up loans and “solvency” grants beginning in 2010, are now out about $1.7 billion of taxpayer cash.
Breitbart News reported last month that Lee believes Covered California can work with new Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Tom Price to find common ground for California’s future healthcare plans.
Lee told KPCC that despite Price having a “strong market bent, “He’s a physician, he cares about patients.”