HHS is teaming up with the Internal Revenue Service to reach out to young adults during the next marketplace open enrollment period. The agencies will contact individuals who paid a penalty or claimed an exemption in 2015.
In 2014, 7.9 million people paid the penalty for not having coverage, and about 45% of them were under the age of 35, compared to about 30% of all taxpayers in 2014.
The exact details as to when consumers will receive the notices and what they will look like are still being ironed out, said Christen Linke Young, principal deputy director for the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight at the CMS, during a press call Tuesday.
“Young adults are over-represented among those who paid the fee, and healthier individuals of all ages presumably are as well,” the agency said in a news release.
Experts lauded the partnership. “The partnership with the IRS should be the gold standard for data on income and insurance status,” said Katherine Hempstead, a senior adviser at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “This is a big improvement over relying on self-reported income data from surveys.”
HHS is also teaming up with the American Hospital Association to develop a social media campaign to teach young adults about health insurance, how to enroll in the marketplace, where to go for enrollment assistance and information about subsidies.
The agency will also begin to more aggressively target 26-year-olds whose insurance through their parents is ending.
The insurers providing the parents' employer-sponsored coverage often also offers marketplace health insurance. These payers are now being encouraged via new guidance to inform those young enrollees about affordable coverage options on the marketplace.
About 28% of the people who signed up for marketplace coverage last year were between the ages of 18 and 34, on par with previous enrollment periods. HHS wants to increase that share as more of this the demographic will offset the costs of older, sicker people.
The new strategies outlined Tuesday follow moves made earlier this month by the federal agency to limit the use of short-term health plans and tweak the Affordable Care Act's risk-adjustment program for health plans to account for people who need coverage for only part of the year.
Moving more healthy people into the exchanges via these various initiatives and policies will help keep premiums low for all that are covered according to HHS.
The next open enrollment begins Nov. 1 and ends Jan. 31, 2017.