This year marked the end of the second enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act, and already, health experts are looking at the data to see how consumers responded to the call for enrollment. According to major health insurers, including Aetna and Anthem, young people are finally jumping aboard the healthcare bandwagon. During the most recent sign-up period, more young consumers enrolled in subsidized health insurance plans via state and federal exchanges. This is good news for Obamacare supporters and consumers nationwide.
In spite of the promising new numbers, health insurers are somewhat concerned about the types of plans being purchased. Younger people typically earn less than older consumers, and lower salaries encourage them to purchase lower-cost insurance through the marketplace. Bronze plans, which represent the least expensive options on state and federal exchanges, may be more attractive to younger consumers. The most popular plans nationwide have been silver-level plans, but insurers aren’t convinced that young people will select these options in the future. Both Aetna and Anthem report modest increases in the number of new customers overall, but these companies and others like them are hopeful that the trend will continue.
The ACA needs young and healthy enrollees in order to offset the cost of insurance for the larger population. Since Obamacare became law in 2010, the government and insurance officials have been pushing for younger people to sign up for coverage. Advertisement efforts continue to target this demographic because young people tend to see doctors less often than do older people or those with health conditions. Insurance carriers report that young people also submit fewer medical claims, and this saves money across the board.
The Cost of Doing Business
Money is one of the driving forces behind most health insurance decisions on both ends of the spectrum. Healthcare carriers need to meet their bottom lines, but consumers also take cost into consideration when purchasing health insurance. The fact that many young people refuse to buy independent health insurance plans may be due to one of the most popular provisions of the ACA. Under the new law, people can stay on their parents’ health insurance plans until they turn 26.
Millennials in particular have been taking advantage of this opportunity to save money on coverage. According to an ADP Research Institute report in April 2015, “Less than half of all eligible employees under age 26 enrolled in an employer-provided health plan.” Despite the fact that there are younger employees in the workforce today, fewer young people have signed up for employer-sponsored coverage. They’ve also skipped out on buying their own plans because it’s cheaper to act as dependents under their parents’ plans. This strategy allows many millennials to devote low, entry-level salaries to things other than health insurance.
Adults under the age of 26 may be working the system, but this strategy actually bodes well for ACA supporters. The White House reports that about 4.5 million more young adults have health insurance now thanks to the new law. According to a Gallup poll in 2014, about 77 percent of people aged 18-25 had insurance. Today, that number has climbed to just over 83 percent. One way or another, young people have gotten the message that health insurance is necessary and affordable.