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Young People Aren’t Flocking to Obamacare Yet

Only 24% of those signing up for Obamacare are between ages 18-34

After a very long delay the federal government has finally started releasing demographic data about who is signing up for coverage on the new exchanges. According to Department of Health and Human Services, only 24 percent of people who have signed up for coverage on either the state or federal exchanges are between the ages of 18-34. From HHS:

  • 54 percent are female and 46 percent are male;
  • 30 percent are age 34 and under;
  • 24 percent are between the ages of 18 and 34, and;
  • 60 percent selected a Silver plan, while 20 percent selected a Bronze plan; and
  • 79 percent selected a plan with Financial Assistance.

This is well below the government’s eventual goal of having a risk pool that is roughly 40 percent young people. If young people fail to sign up in large numbers that will likely means premium on the exchanges will need to be increased, but the law allows insurance to charge old people up to three times as much as young adults so the impact would be modest. What is important is the relative health of people in each age group.

It has always been assumed that the least healthy people would be the ones most eager to sign up and healthy people would tend to wait to the very last minute. This is an issue worth keeping an eye on but there is a good chance enrollment among young adults will increase on its own.

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Young People Aren’t Flocking to Obamacare Yet

After a very long delay the federal government has finally started releasing demographic data about who is signing up for coverage on the new exchanges. According to Department of Health and Human Services only 24 percent of people who have signed up for coverage on either the state or federal exchanges are between the ages of 18-34. From HHS:

  • 54 percent are female and 46 percent are male;
  • 30 percent are age 34 and under;
  • 24 percent are between the ages of 18 and 34, and;
  • 60 percent selected a Silver plan, while 20 percent selected a Bronze plan; and
  • 79 percent selected a plan with Financial Assistance.

This is well below the government’s eventual goal of having a risk pool that is roughly 40 percent young people. If young people fail to sign up in large numbers that will likely means premium on the exchanges will need to be increased, but the law allows insurance to charge old people up to three times as much as young adults so the impact would be modest. What is important is the relative health of people in each age group.

It has always been assumed that the least healthy people would be the ones most eager to sign up and healthy people would tend to wait to the very last minute. This is an issue worth keeping an eye on but there is a good chance enrollment among young adults will increase on its own.

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is now living in the Washington DC area. He created a politics and policy blog, The Walker Report (http://jwalkerreport.blogspot.com/).