Obamacare's Success Depends on Winning Resistant Young Americans

And getting them to pay big bucks for coverage they don't need


Arsine Sargsyan is 23 years old, healthy and uninsured. She chooses to forgo coverage for one simple reason: "I never get sick."

Despite her reluctance, Sargsyan is exactly the type of person insurance plans, states and the federal government are counting on to make health reform work.

As the clock ticks toward the 2014 launch of the Affordable Care Act, health leaders across the nation are embarking on a tough task: persuading young adults like Sargsyan to enroll. Their participation will be critical to balance out older, sicker patients more likely to sign up for health insurance as soon as they are able.

The success of the healthcare law "depends on reaching everyone who is uninsured, but particularly young people who may feel like they don't need insurance," said Larry Levitt, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation. Convincing them to spend money on insurance, he said, will be a "marketing challenge."

Getting young adults on board will require changing cultural norms, Levitt said. "For kids in their 20s … following convention isn't their first instinct," he said.