Nearly a third of the initial 1,157 applicants to Access Health CT, Connecticut's insurance exchange, were under 35, Kevin Counihan, Access Health CT's CEO, said during an Oct. 8 meeting with state officials.
HHS officials say they won't release any enrollment figures for the federal insurance marketplace—which runs exchanges for 36 states—until November.
The early data from state-run exchanges may look promising, but sources say it's far too early to tell if young people will sign up in numbers large enough to meet HHS' target of 2.7 million young adult enrollees for 2014, which amounts to roughly 39% of its goal of 7 million enrolled individuals by the end of March. Experts say a lot will come down to whether Americans in this age group see coverage as affordable.
In June, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius called that 7-million figure realistic and said working toward that number would hopefully lead to a “balanced risk pool.”
“The best sign so far has been the huge interest in the exchanges, much beyond expectations,” said Joel Ario, managing director at Manatt Health Solutions and former director of the office of health insurance exchanges at HHS. “The challenge will be converting that broad interest into actual purchasing of plans.”
Ario said initial state reports showing solid participation among lower age brackets are also a positive sign, but he cautioned against making any snap judgments based on that data. “The people doing the initial purchasing are probably the people who need the coverage the most,” he said. “Others will probably shop longer and purchase later.”
When it comes to attracting healthy young people, state-run and federally facilitated exchanges could have their work cut out for them. Only 27% of young adults reported even being aware of the existence of the exchanges, according to survey results released in August by the Commonwealth Fund.
But a Kaiser Family Foundation survey in June found that more than 71% of adults 30 and younger said having health insurance is “very important” to them, and two-thirds of these young adults said they worried about paying medical bills arising from a serious illness or accident. http://kff.org/health-reform/poll-finding/kaiser-health-tracking-poll-june-2013/ The survey found that cost was the biggest barrier for uninsured young people, with four in 10 citing the expense of coverage as the main reason they don't have it.
Several conservative groups are running a campaign to discourage young people from signing up for coverage, including urging them to burn their Obamacare card, even though no such card exists.
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