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Don’t Worry, Young People Won’t Avoid Signing Up For Obamacare

By Igor Volsky

"Don’t Worry, Young People Won’t Avoid Signing Up For Obamacare"

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FE_DA_ACA-young-people620x413Uninsured young people are eager to sign up for health care coverage, a new Reuters survey finds, suggesting that the new health care exchanges that are part of the Affordable Care Act could attract enough healthy people to “offset the costs of covering sicker Americans and keep the system afloat financially.”

Half of Americans between the ages of 18 through 34 support the health care law, the poll found, while one-third of “young adults in the poll said they are ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ likely to buy insurance through their state’s exchange.” As Sharon Begley writes, if half of that population follows through and purchases coverage, “the White House would easily meet its goal of getting 2.7 million young adults – out of about 16 million uninsured 19-to-29-year-olds – to buy Obamacare insurance for 2014.”

To that end, administration administration officials and their state partners are engaging mayors, local officials, community leaders, and family members to systematically enroll uninsured young people. They’re courting celebrities, popular websites, and sports teams to help spread information about the law and will run advertisements in women’s magazines, online, and on TV channels with strong male audiences like BET, MTV, G4, and Spike.

During a background briefing with health reporters in July, White House administration officials identified this group as predominantly African American and Hispanic men between the ages of 18 and 35 who are concentrated in three states: California, Florida, and Texas. This population, officials believe, is least likely to be swayed by misinformation or GOP rhetoric about repeal.

Past surveys confirm that young people are indeed interested in purchasing coverage, if they can find affordable options. A Kaiser Family Foundation survey from July reported that more than seven in ten people between the ages of 18 and 30 rate having health insurance as “very important” and “feel it is something they need and that it is worth the money.” Just a quarter said they are healthy enough to go without coverage.

Young people will be able to choose insurance products of varying quality in the exchanges or purchase less-expensive catastrophic plans on the individual health care market. Though premiums vary, and some have raised concerns about “rate shock” for young enrollees, early studies of health care costs have found that premiums are generally lower than expected.

On Friday, Minnesota announced on Friday that a 25-year-old nonsmoker can buy coverage for as low as $90.59 per month — constituting the smallest rates in the nation — while a 25-year-old Marylanders be able to purchase a plan that is more comprehensive than policies currently available on the individual market for $114 per month. 18 to 34 years olds are also the largest share of any age group to benefit from the law’s premium tax credits and see lower health care costs.

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