Obamacare Needs Young Adults to Sign Up for Insurance to Keep Costs Low. Will They?

by | Last updated Jun 29, 2023 | Published on Jan 24, 2014 | Healthcare News

Morning Consult
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Obamacare wants 2.7 million healthy 18-to-34 year-olds – ‘young invincibles’ – to sign up in insurance exchanges to offset the cost of providing care for as many as 30 million uninsured people, most of whom are in the high-risk segment as they are older and sicker. The snag is that if Obamacare fails to attract this segment, premiums for plans sold through the exchange will spiral, defeating the very purpose of the Affordable Care Act.

Compared to older adults, young people rarely use the insurance they pay for. According to a recent Bloomberg report, the Obama’s administration’s challenge as far as health insurance is concerned, is to convince young people about the value of having insurance at a time in their lives when they have little use for coverage and do not have the means to afford it. Many young people have lost their jobs due to the recession while others are struggling to pay for their education even when they are employed. One young man doesn’t think people should have insurance and be penalized if they do not. Evan Feinberg, president of a Virginia-based advocacy group for young adults, says it’s not fair to be ‘stealing’ money from young adults to foot the healthcare bill of the older generation. Moreover, enrolling 2.7 million, young, healthy Americans can be really difficult as the Affordable Care Act allows young adults to stay on their parent’s plan up to the age of 25.

However, there’s the other side of the picture. Without health insurance, a youngster who falls sick or has an accident would end up paying thousands for hospital bills. The results of a survey published in September 2013 by Morning Consult, a Washington-based media company, found that around 56 percent of adults age 18 to 29 approve (36 percent ‘somewhat’ and 20 percent ‘strongly’) of the new health care law. Up to 35 percent were certain about buying a plan on the public exchanges. There was 50-50 chance for 39 percent to buy insurance through the ACA exchanges. This means a large group of young adults support Obamacare. Here’s a look at the findings of the Morning Consult survey:

Federal subsidies are a plausible explanation for this support. As per Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit research group, over 80 percent of young adults who were uninsured for some time between March 2012 and March 2013 will be eligible for tax credits to offset premium costs or may eligible for Medicaid programs for the poor. Normally, those who earn up to 400% (which is up to $45,960 for an individual and $94,200 for a family of four) of the poverty line can get subsidy in premium costs and those who less than 250% of the poverty line ($28,725 for a single person and $58,875 for a family of four) will be eligible extra subsidies for out-of-pocket costs including deductibles and co-payments. The actual amount of subsidy will depend upon the income (subsidy increases while income decreases), age and location.

Moreover, insurance plans bought through exchanges must cover a set of health benefits known as ‘essential health benefits’ (ten categories of health care service) which include mental health, brand-name drugs or pre-natal care that don’t usually covered by private plans available outside the exchanges. Thus, the state insurance exchange plan is really beneficial for young adults when faced with unpredictable health care needs (for example, an accident).

Both sides, pro- and anti-Obamacare, are carrying through nationwide campaigns to influence the young invincibles. Whoever wins, the bottom line should be to make healthcare care affordable and bring down the nation’s healthcare costs.

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