Current Weather
The Spy FM

Why The Youth Gap On Obamacare Exchanges Could Be A Yawner

Filed by KOSU News in Health.
January 14, 2014

The dust is settling a bit after the administration released details Monday about who signed up for health insurance on the exchanges during the chaotic three months after they launched Oct. 1.

Just about everybody was watching to see how many young people piled in. Younger people are generally healthier, and their premiums tend to balance out insurers’ outlays for older, sicker people.

For Obamacare to work over the long haul, young people need to be a big part of the health insurance mix.

The administration ultimately hopes that about 40 percent of the people who get insurance through the exchanges will be young adults.

As the year wound down, lots of people enrolled. Many of them were young, but people, ages 18 to 34, came in at just 24 percent of the total sign-ups.

Big deal? Maybe. Maybe not.

“Had we seen the numbers reversed, with strong young-people enrollment, that would have been a surprise,” says Matthew Eyles, an executive vice president at Avalere Health.

But the relatively low turnout of young people for coverage isn’t a shock.

People in generally good health will probably wait to sign up, unless there’s some particular medical car they’ve been waiting for, he tells Shots.

“Age is a very good proxy for health spending,” Eyles says, though it’s not perfect. It’s possible, for instance, that health problems provided the motivation that many young people, and older people for that matter, needed to slog through the early problems with HealthCare.gov and some states’s exchanges.

So the key would be good to know but don’t, is how healthy the people are who signed up for insurance at the start. “We don’t have actual health information for the early enrollees,” Eyles says.

Even so, the early returns are fairly encouraging, he says. People put off making insurance decisions. That was true when Medicare added a drug benefit, he said. [Copyright 2014 NPR]

Leave a Reply

9AM to 10AM The Takeaway

The Takeaway

A fresh alternative in morning news, "The Takeaway" provides a breadth and depth of world, national and regional news coverage that is unprecedented in public media.

Listen Live Now!

10AM to 11PM On Point

On Point

On Point unites distinct and provocative voices with passionate discussion as it confronts the stories that are at the center of what is important in the world today. Leaving no perspective unchallenged, On Point digs past the surface and into the core of a subject, exposing each of its real world implications.

View the program guide!

11AM to 12PM The Story

The Story

The Story with Dick Gordon brings the news home through first-person accounts. The live weekday program is passionate, personal, immediate and relevant to listeners, focusing on the news where it changes our lives, causes us to stop and rethink, inspires us.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center