Many Young Adults Eligible for ACA Coverage Subsidies, Study Says
Up to 82% of young uninsured U.S. adults will be eligible for federal subsidies to purchase health coverage through the Affordable Care Act's insurance exchanges or Medicaid, according to a Commonwealth Fund report released Wednesday, Reuters reports. However, less than one-third of young adults know about the new marketplaces that are set to begin open enrollment on Oct. 1 (Begley, Reuters, 8/21).
For the report, researchers surveyed nearly 1,900 adults ages 19 to 29 between November 2011 and March 2013 (Young, Huffington Post, 8/21). The poll has a margin of sampling error of 3.2 percentage points.
Main Findings of Report
Researchers noted that the subsidy eligibility finding means that affordability is less likely to affect enrollment in the insurance exchanges.
Meanwhile, 67% of the survey respondents indicated that they would enroll for coverage through their employer. Among those who said they would not enroll in the employer-sponsored coverage:
- 54% said they had coverage through a family member;
- 22% said they could not afford the premiums; and
- 5% said they did not think they would not need medical care, or the coverage.
Aaron Smith -- co-founder of the Young Invincibles, an advocacy group that represents the health care interests of young adults -- said the main barriers to young adults purchasing health insurance is price and the belief that they will not get sick (Reuters, 8/21).
Obama administration officials have said they need to enroll 2.7 million U.S. residents between ages 18 and 35 in the exchanges to offset the cost of enrolling older, sicker individuals. Some observers say this age group will be "a tough sell" because they could be reluctant to purchase coverage they might rarely use (Kliff, Washington Post, 7/22).
On Monday, HHS announced the national Healthy Young America video contest -- in collaboration with Young Invincibles -- to encourage young adults to enroll in the exchanges (Baker, "Hill Tube," The Hill, 8/19).
Sara Collins -- the Commonwealth Fund report's lead author -- noted, "There is a stereotype that young adults believe they are 'invincible' and don't want or need health insurance." The new report "shows that is a myth," she said, adding, "In general, young adults value health insurance but cannot afford it" (Fox, NBC News, 8/21).
However, awareness about the exchanges and the subsidies and other benefits they offer could affect enrollment figures. The survey found that just 27% of respondents knew about the exchanges. In addition, awareness rates were lowest among young people who were uninsured (19%) or had low to moderate incomes (18%).
However, new and ongoing federal and state level advertising campaigns to promote the exchanges to the young adult demographic have likely raised those rates since the survey was completed in March, Reuters notes (Reuters, 8/21).
Meanwhile, the report found that at least 15 million young adults ages 19 to 25 were on their parents' health insurance policies as of March, up from 13.7 million in 2011 (Reuters, 8/21). Sixty-three percent of respondents who identified as Republicans had enrolled in a parent's plan, compared with 45% of respondents who identified as Democrats (NBC News, 8/21).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.