“I was really shocked that 64 percent [of uninsured adults] said they haven’t decided if they will purchase insurance by the Jan. 1 deadline,” Adams said. “I was definitely surprised by the high number of people who really have no clue what they’re going to do next year.”“We don’t want these consumers to miss this key deadline,” she said, adding that new heath-care exchanges under Obamacare will begin accepting applications for insurance in less than four months. “They’re going to potentially go without health care for the entire year.”
These numbers are a very bad sign for Obamacare. The success of the ACA depends on convincing a large number of people to sign up for insurance, particularly the healthy and the young. Insurance companies need customers with low medical risk to keep premiums low; if many of them opt out of insurance, those who use a lot of medical services will be over-represented in the insurance pool, driving premiums sky-high through a phenomenon known as adverse selection. Without a large new influx of insured people, Obamacare just cannot work, period.It’s been clear for a while now that the ACA faces a massive threat from adverse selection. Because the penalty for non-compliance with the mandate is so low compared to the premiums the insured will have to pay, many people will be tempted to pay the penalty and opt-out of the insurance market altogether. This poll suggests that these early fears, if anything, might have even understated the challenge facing the ACA.Hill Democrats are publicly bullish about the law, but stories like this one and the debacle in California must have them worried about the future of Obama’s signature achievement.