The Young Aren't Enrolling in ObamaCare

November 15, 2013

According to insurers, the early buyers of health coverage on the nation's troubled new websites are older than expected so far, raising early concerns about the economics of the insurance marketplaces, says the Wall Street Journal.

If the trend continues, an older, more expensive set of customers could drive up prices for everyone, the insurers say, by forcing them to spread their costs around. "We need a broad range of people to make this work, and we're not seeing that right now," says Heather Thiltgen of Medical Mutual of Ohio, the state's largest insurer by individual customers. "We're seeing the population skewing older."

  • The average enrollee age at Priority Health, a Michigan insurer, has ticked up to age 51 for newcomers, from about 41 years old for plans offered for the current year, says Joan Budden, chief marketing officer.
  • Arise Health Plan, Wisconsin's largest nonprofit insurer, says more than half its 150 signees are over age 50, a higher proportion than expected, while declining to be specific on its target age.

In states that are running their own marketplaces and have seen smoother rollouts, officials are now also reporting a similar phenomenon, suggesting the economics of the law play a role, too. In Connecticut and Kentucky, which have enrolled more than 4,000 people each in private health plans so far, the largest segments of enrollees in new commercial health law plans are over age 55, much older than industry actuaries say they had anticipated.

So far, the young have remained elusive. At a health law education event in North Carolina recently, more than 100 people, mostly in their 40s and 50s, came. "I actually didn't see a single young person," says Liz Gallops, an insurance agent from Raleigh, N.C., who attended.

Source: Christopher Weaver and Timothy W. Martin, "Young Avoid New Health Plans," Wall Street Journal, November 4, 2013.

 

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