Young and Healthy Need to Enroll for the ACA to Work



The ultimate goal of the Affordable Care Act is to get all Americans covered by health insurance. At the present time, the highest age group of uninsured is people between the ages of 18-34.

This is a major concern, as many young people just don’t see the need for healthcare coverage. They’re not often sick, and don’t tend to dwell on the repercussions of a catastrophic accident or sudden serious illness. Some states, like California, are sending strong marketing messages to their youth in hopes that they will choose to get covered. Although adult children are now allowed to stay on their parents’ health plan until age 26, Health and Human Services estimates that about 11.6 million people ages 18-34 remain uninsured. Getting a good number of them enrolled is essential to the success of the Affordable Care Act.

A working paper by professors from Northwestern University and the University of California, Berkeley uses data from a firm who offers coverage options to each of its 9,000 employees in order to simulate an exchange. Their findings suggest that even in the worst case scenario, one in which anyone who doesn’t believe health insurance is beneficial to them (young people) do  not enroll, 60% of people ages 25-30 would still benefit from buying a bronze level plan at $2700 per month (unsubsidized).

In the best case scenario, one in which many young Americans sign up for health insurance, a vicious cycle is expected in which more and more jump on the bandwagon and choose to get coverage. In this case the simulation aforementioned shows that premiums for the same segment (those ages 25-30) would see their premiums drop by a third. It remains to be seen how this will all play out come 2014.