Oregon Hipster Ads Fail to Attract Young Obamacare Enrollees

by Andrew Johnson
The Beaver State is tied for last among 18-to-34s.

Cover Oregon, the state health-insurance exchange that last fall spent more than $3 million in federal funds on a series of arty music videos featuring soulful folk-hipsters, is tied for last among state exchanges for signing up younger enrollees.

A new Department of Health and Human Services report finds that only 18 percent of the Beaver State’s enrollees are between the ages of 18 and 34. The Affordable Care Act’s fragile economics demand that this key demographic be highly represented among state exchange enrollees.

Most analysts consider signing up high percentages of young customers crucial to Obamacare’s success. Yet Oregon, despite longstanding efforts to remake itself as a hipster-friendly “creative class” utopia, has struck out among the young.

The state is not only considerably below the national average of younger enrollees — 25 percent — but well short of the national goal of getting 40 percent younger enrollees. Only West Virginia has as low a figure.

Oregon’s exchange has also been plagued with problems since its October 1 launch. The poorly functioning website, which has yet to enroll a single person online after five months, is currently under investigation by the federal Government Accountability Office for its use of federal grants.

With the deadline to enroll at the end of the month, Cover Oregon officials remain confident that they will attract the desired number of young people, as well as their overall enrollee goal. Only half of enrollees across all ages have selected a plan, according to the Oregonian.

“There is a lot of confusion out there,” a Cover Oregon spokesman told the newspaper. “We have some of the lowest premiums in the country. Oregonians can apply and enroll at CoverOregon.com. We are optimistic that as the word gets out about this, young people will come in by the deadline.”

— Andrew Johnson is an editorial associate at National Review Online.

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