The long-term success of president Obama’s Affordable Care Act will depend not on those who need healthcare the most, but on those who need it the least: young people. The plan will work as envisioned only if millions of healthy people join and offset bills incurred by sicker ones, who cannot be turned away.

Health Insurance Attracts Those Who Need It Most

Older and sicker individuals are more likely to seek guaranteed insurance coverage. The Obama administration estimates it needs about 40% of the 7 million people expected to enroll the first year to be young and healthy to help cover the costs of the chronically ill. If healthy people do not enroll, insurers will start to increase premiums, which would lead us to the same dysfunctional healthcare reimbursement system we have had, that the program is trying to avoid.

Obama Administration Tries to Lure Young and Healthy into Plan

It will be an ongoing challenge convincing the young and healthy, who feel invincible, when in reality all it takes is an accident or serious illness to bring on financial disaster. The penalty for opting out, as little as $100, may seem small compared to monthly premium costs for those who believe they will stay healthy.