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Government officials confirm Obamacare isn't attracting many young people

Teresa Tanoos's picture
Not many young adults are signing up for Obamacare like the President hoped.

Government officials confirmed yesterday that of the more than 2 million people who’ve signed up for an insurance plan on the Obamacare website, the majority are middle-aged adults looking for subsidies – not young adults, like the White House administration wanted to enroll in order to keep the cost of coverage down for everyone.

Indeed, fewer than 25 percent of young adults have signed up for health insurance so far, but administration officials say they’re not concerned – yet.

Gary Cohen, director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight at HHS’s Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, believes that more young adults will sign up over time, which he said was similar to “the experience in Massachusetts”.

Cohen added that young adults “want to think about it” and “shop around” because they’ve never been insured before.

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius put yet another spin on the number of people who've signed up so far at HealthCare.gov. In a White House blog on Monday, she posted that over 6 million Americans have now signed up, either for “a private health insurance plan through the Marketplace or for Medicaid coverage”.

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But it wasn’t that long ago – December 31, 2013 to be exact – that another government official said that the number of enrollees on that date was 2.2 million.

Regardless, the slight dip in numbers released on Monday at least provide something new – namely, an indication of "who" has signed up so far – and the majority of them have been predominately middle-aged people looking for government subsidies.

Meanwhile, there are some experts who insist that it doesn’t matter “who” is signing up, so long as it’s a good mix of healthy and sick people. The problem is that nobody really knows what the mix really is.

What is known is known, at least according to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, is when you combine the number of people who’ve enrolled on the federal website at HealthCare.gov, along with the number of folks who’ve signed up on the state-run websites, a majority of 79 percent of the people signing up will receive a government subsidy in the form of a tax credit that covers premium and other health costs.

We also know the ages of those who’ve signed up so far: 1) about 33 percent are ages 55 to 64; 2) another 22 percent are 45 to 54 years old; and 3) only 24 percent are between the ages of 18 to 34 based on the numbers released on Monday.

In the meantime, people still have more than another two more months to sign up for health insurance at HealthCare.gov. The deadline for doing so is March 31, 2014.

SOURCE: 1) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), The Enrollment Story Behind the Numbers, Posted January 13, 2014, By Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary, Health and Human Services. 2) Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, CMS