Columnist: Offer Marijuana to Young People Who Sign Up for Obamacare

by Jim Geraghty

Caroline Baum, a columnist for Bloomberg, offers suggestions to the Obama administration that are extremely creative, extremely desperate, or a sign Obamacare’s fans are having a collective nervous breakdown:

First, announce and advertise that everyone between the ages of 18 and 34 who enrolls on the health-care exchanges by the end of the year is automatically entered in a lottery. Winners will receive everything from a free iPhone or iPad to a full-year of health-care underwritten by Uncle Sam. Refer a friend and get a discount. Buy one (year), get one free. In states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use — Colorado and Washington — by all means, throw in a bag of cannabis.

It isn’t fair, you say? Who said life is fair? Obamacare is based on the idea of young, healthy people, who don’t use a lot of health-care services, subsidizing the sick and elderly. Their generation is on the hook for the debt incurred to provide for the baby boomers in retirement. So forget fair.

If you thought Obamacare was unpopular before, just wait until taxpayer dollars are used to purchase and distribute marijuana to young people.

The problem with Obamacare is not that there isn’t enough advertising for it — $500 million from insurance companies alone. The problem is not a lack of celebrity endorsements. Kal Penn tweets about “covering your dong” are not going to spur mass signups, nor is one from Adam Levine. And no, a bag of marijuana won’t change the dynamic either.

The recent Harvard survey found 56 percent of young people disapprove of the Affordable Care Act, 39 percent approve. Only 20 percent said they plan to enroll through the exchanges after they are no longer covered by their parents’ plan; 47 percent described themselves as likely to enroll. Young people are wary because, as Baum acknowledges, it’s a bad deal: 44 percent believe their care will get worse under the new law; only 17 believe it will get better, and 50 percent believe they will pay more for care under ACA; only 10 percent believe they will pay less.

Average premiums for young people will range from $157 to $201 a month, which comes out to $1,884 to $2,412 per year. (This doesn’t account for deductibles, copays, etc.) Most uninsured young people don’t have that extra cash lying around — or if they do, they would prefer to spend it elsewhere.