Tom Still: Getting behind the Obamacare sign-up numbers

This is an excerpt from a column posted at BizOpinion.

Just when you thought you had the politics of the pro- and anti-Obamacare debate figured out, along come some pesky numbers to upset your thinking.

With the end of the open enrollment period set for late March, there are huge state-to-state differences in terms of people signing up for coverage through the federal Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” as its commonly called.

Wisconsin is among six Republican-led “red” states where official opposition to Obamacare has been stiff, but where sign-up rates are on target or even ahead of the game. Others are Florida, Idaho, Maine, Michigan and North Carolina.

Conversely, some Democratic “blue” states or jurisdictions are lagging: Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon and the District of Columbia.

The answer may rest less in politics than in demographics. In Wisconsin, according the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 56,436 people had enrolled through Feb. 1. That was ahead of the government’s sign-up goal of 48,980 for the state by that date. Of that total, only 20 percent are what health experts call “the invincibles” – young people 18 to 34 years old who often think they don’t need health insurance. That compares to 25 percent in the young category nationally so far.

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