Anti-Obamacare Group's Misleading Op-Ed Discourages Young Americans From Enrolling In Exchanges

Anti-Affordable Care Act (ACA) group Generation Opportunity placed a misinformed op-ed aimed at Millennials in at least a half dozen local papers in an effort to prevent younger Americans from enrolling in the Affordable Care Act 's individual exchanges.

Generation Opportunity's op-ed ran in at least a half-dozen newspapers over the weekend of September 28, including in Nevada's Las Vegas Review-Journal and Florida's Sun-Sentinel. The piece was authored by former unsuccessful Congressional candidate from Pennsylvania and president of Generation Opportunity -- a Koch-brothers backed anti-Affordable Care Act group -- Evan Feinberg. The editorial attempted to frame the ACA as a “bad deal for young people” and urged them to “opt out” by claiming it will cost them a lot of money and that it “relies on a system of generational redistribution”:

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 are a bad deal for young people. And as a result, it makes more financial sense for Millennials to opt out and purchase a non-Obamacare policy on the private market.

The most obvious problem with the exchange system is how it perversely relies on a system of generational redistribution. Quite simply, the law 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 system won't work, and the exchanges will enter what has been called a “death spiral.”

Despite conservatives' constant attempt to turn young people away from the ACA, many Millennials are able to understand that having health insurance can save thousands of dollars in cases of serious injury or illness and that gaining coverage through the exchanges, employer benefits, or through private plans also allows them to access affordable prescriptions, and afford preventive care which can help prevent minor issues from becoming major health concerns.

Feinberg clearly recognizes the benefits of health coverage, as he suggests that young people “opt out and purchase a non-Obamacare policy on the private market.” However, Feinberg leaves out the important detail that federal tax credits, often referred to as subsidies, are only available through the exchanges and are designed to make coverage affordable. Suggesting young people “opt out” and buy coverage through a private plan adds up to telling Millennials to pay more for private coverage that must meet identical standards as the plans offered on exchanges.

Feinberg's confusion continues as he blames the ACA for attempting to impose a “system of generational redistribution,” or making the young and healthy pay for the coverage of individuals with health problems. However, this is the essential principle behind all insurance; by paying monthly premiums, individuals protect themselves from the full cost of health care in times of need. Insurance companies pay for health care for people who are sick with premium revenues from healthy customers.

Additionally, the op-ed included several previously debunked myths surrounding the ACA, including the falsehood that Congress will receive an "exemption" from the exchanges. Feinberg also relied on scare tactics, comparing information sharing concerning health care coverage to NSA-style surveillance. The type of information shared between agencies like the IRS and Homeland Security is far less personal than Feinberg suggests, and includes known factors such as immigration status, employer information, veteran status, and some limited health information such as pregnancy status used to calculate subsidies. 

Generation Opportunity was recently responsible for the misleading and intimidating ad that showed a menacing Uncle Sam performing medical exams; a spot labeled by news organizations as not only "creepy" but “irresponsible and dangerous” in spreading health care falsehoods. As MSNBC explained in its report on reaction to the uncomfortable ads:

 “It is hard to tell if this is real or if it's a 'Saturday Night Live' parody about the hypocrisy of extremists who want to be in every exam room in America but don't want to expand access to quality health care,” said Eric Ferrero, vice president for communications at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “These are the same extreme Koch-funded political groups who have tried to pass trans-vaginal ultrasound laws and other laws allowing politicians to interfere with people's personal medical decisions. These videos are the height of hypocrisy, but more importantly they are irresponsible and dangerous, designed to spread misinformation and discourage people from getting access to high quality, affordable health care.”