The Young Not-So-Invincibles

To sell the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration has earmarked a small island nation’s GDP (nearly $700 million). Frustratingly for them, many “young invincibles”—industry jargon for the healthy 18-to-34-year-olds whose enrollment its success depends on—remain on the fence. We canvassed coffee shops and parks for 100 such holdouts, who divulged what it would take for them to enroll.

My annual income …

Qualifies me for free Medicaid (

Why haven’t you signed up yet?

It’s too expensive: 29%
To protest Obamacare: 0%
I tried to but couldn’t and/or got frustrated and quit: 12%
I don’t get sick: 8%
Haven’t thought about it: 11%
I’ll probably do it at the last minute: 16%
Other: 24%
“The fine is cheaper.”
“Waste of money.”
“Waiting for rush to be over.”
“Seems like a scam.”

Did you try?

No: 76%
Yes: 24%

What’s your opinion of Obamacare?

“Anything that throws a wrench in the gears of our embarrassing health-care system is a welcome change. Even if it’s messy for a while.”

“Love universal health care, but this plan is still too in favor of for-profit insurers. Also, signing up is a nightmare.”

“It’s a huge financial disaster, but more so a disaster to our free will.”

“I don’t really know that much except that the website was a huge embarrassment.”

What have you paid for out of pocket?

“STD tests.”

“Broke my clavicle bone in Central Park.”

“Dental-crown replacement.”

“A bedbug allergy that led to a staph infection that turned into MRSA, then sepsis.”

“Blunt trauma to the eye.”

The Bronze plan is the Exchange’s most basic. Could you afford its $308 monthly premium?

No: 75%
Yes: 25%

If not, what would you have to give up?

“Coffee and beer.”
“Gym membership, cable.”
“New York.”
“Like, everything?”

What would you be willing to pay per month for a plan?

Free: 7%
Less than $50: 10%
$50 to $99: 30%
$100 to $199: 36%
$200 to $399: 8%
$400 or more: 2%
Unsure: 7%

What would change your mind about enrolling?

“Choice of doctors.”
“An easier website. Better FAQ.”
“If it were cheaper and I were older.”
“Medical marijuana.”
“Free kittens.”
“I will buy it when I get around to it. Until then, I’m not using NYC Bike Share.”

Which pitch (all from real ads) might persuade you to enroll?

Mom says it’d give her peace of mind: 29%
A Scarlett Johansson robo-call: 5%
Hot cocoa with “Pajama Boy:” 5%
A Ryan Gosling cutout says it’s “excited” to get to know you: 3%
Jack Black stars as the Mis-Informant, spreads Obamacare lies: 3%
None of these: 55%

My current health, summed up in a sentence:

I drink too much, but that’s about it: 15%
I’m young. Who cares?: 13%
It could be better: 8%
I never get sick: 16%
Let’s just say I self-medicate: 17%
Other: 23%

Reporting by Camille Bromley, Allegra Hobbs, Noah Hurowitz, Claire McCartney, and Trupti Rami

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The Young Not-So-Invincibles