FOCUS OF THE WEEK
Enrolling the 'Young Invincibles'
December 18, 2013, 10:36:25 AM
Katie Sullivan
A collaborative effort is under way to enroll millions of young and healthy Americans into health plans that are available in the federal and state insurance exchanges. As the enrollment deadline approaches, many individuals aged 19 to 29 years remain unfamiliar with the health reform policy changes. Their participation is imperative to keeping premiums affordable for the higher-risk pool of consumers.

On top of an already challenging start to online enrollment, a national poll conducted by the Harvard Institute of Politics revealed that 3 in 10 uninsured people aged 18 to 29 years said they would “definitely or probably” enroll through an exchange if and when they were eligible. While these are not exactly encouraging findings, they may not accurately demonstrate how many will enroll.

“If Massachusetts is any guide, healthy young adults will typically wait until near the end of the six-month enrollment period to sign up, by which time Health Insurance Marketplaces are expected to be running far more smoothly, and current disarray over the rules governing the extension of older policies is expected to have been largely resolved,” read a recent report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Groups from the federal, private, and public sectors are all working to ensure that more young Americans understand the urgent and necessary nature of obtaining insurance. In North Carolina, Blue Cross Blue Shield is utilizing mobile units and retail stores to enroll more consumers. The Department of Health and Human Services has partnered with activist group The Young Invincibles in order to stress the message that young consumers are not, in fact, invincible.

The Foundation’s report added, “Even with 100% awareness, however, the biggest problem for low-income young adult coverage is the lack of Medicaid expansion in every state. So far, only about half of all states have decided to expand their Medicaid programs under the ACA to add coverage for young individuals and families and increased eligibility to those earning up to 133% of the federal poverty level. That means in those states without the Medicaid expansion, young adults with incomes under the poverty level—$11,490 for an individual in 2013—will not be eligible for either Medicaid or federal subsidies on the exchange.”

Around the Web

Young Adults and the Affordable Care Act [Health Affairs]