Young people do want health insurance coverage – ‘ObamaCare’ is working

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

If young people do not sign up for health insurance it is not because they feel that they don't need health insurance (aka the "young invincibles"), but rather because (1) insurance premiums are too expensive, and (2) they are unaware of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act. This according to a new study by the nonpartisan Commonwealth Fund.

Commonwealth Fund Health Insurance Tracking Survey data from 2011 and
2013 show increasing awareness among young adults of the 2010
requirement that health plans cover children under age 26. Of the
estimated 15 million young adults enrolled in a parent’s plan in the
prior 12 months, 7.8 million would not likely have been eligible to
enroll prior to the law. Still, only 27 percent of 19-to-29-year-olds
are aware of the marketplaces. Meanwhile, most uninsured young adults
living below poverty will not have access to subsidized public or
private insurance in states opting out of the Medicaid expansion. Issue Brief (.pdf).

Reuters reported last week, Low prices seen luring young adults to Obamacare: study:

What uninsured young adults do when state
exchanges created under "Obamacare" open on October 1 will be one of the
most important factors in determining the success of the president's
signature domestic policy achievement. If too few young people, who tend
to be relatively healthy, sign up for coverage, then premiums might not
cover the medical costs of sicker people who do enroll.

Young Adults_graphic sm"Contrary
to commonly held beliefs, young adults DO want affordable health
coverage," said Dr. David Blumenthal, president of the nonpartisan
Commonwealth Fund. The group's study dispels the notion that young
adults don't think they need coverage because they feel invincible, said
lead author Sara Collins.

Up to 82
percent of nearly 16 million uninsured young U.S. adults would qualify
for federal subsidies or Medicaid under Obamacare, meaning that
affordability is less likely to impede enrollment in health insurance
via state exchanges, the study concludes. Those ages 19 to 29 will
eventually enroll in large numbers, it predicts, without specifying how
many years it could take.

That
optimistic conclusion comes from what young adults do when offered an
opportunity to buy health insurance through their jobs. In such cases,
67 percent took the coverage.

For
those who declined, the chief reasons were that they were covered by a
family member (54 percent) or couldn't afford the premiums (22 percent).
Only 5 percent turned down coverage because they felt they were
unlikely to need much medical care.

That price, not feeling they will never get sick,
is the main barrier to young adults buying health insurance
, said Aaron
Smith, co-founder of Young Invincibles, a non-profit that runs
education campaigns and conducts research on issues important to
18-to-34-year olds. "Price is the biggest hurdle."

* * *

A greater barrier than affordability may be
that very few young adults are aware that the new coverage will be an
option in less than six weeks.

Confirming
other surveys, a Commonwealth poll found that only 27 percent of the
19-to-29-year olds were aware of the state health insurance
marketplaces. Awareness was lowest among the uninsured (19 percent knew
about the marketplaces) and people with low to moderate incomes (18
percent).

Screenshot from 2013-08-25 11:24:22

Those groups are most likely to benefit from the federal subsidies available to help people with incomes less than four times the poverty level ($45,960 for an individual) buy policies on the exchanges.

Screenshot from 2013-08-25 11:31:18

The report also found that 15 million adults ages 19 to 25 (half of this age group) were on a parent's health insurance policy in the prior 12 months, up from 13.7 million in 2011. Of the 15 million, an estimated 7.8 million got that coverage through the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which requires insurers allow children up to age 26 to stay on a parent's policy.

Screenshot from 2013-08-25 11:34:11

Partly as a result, the number of uninsured young adults dropped from 18.1 million in 2011 to 15.7 million in 2013.

In other words, "ObamaCare" is already working.

Screenshot from 2013-08-25 11:35:53

Sarah Kliff at Ezra Klein's Wonkblog adds, There’s an Obamacare program that Republicans use more than Democrats:

Just about every poll on Obamacare will show you the same thing: There’s
a huge partisan split on the health care law. Most Democrats support
it, most Republicans oppose it and independents fall somewhere in the
middle.

That partisan divide, however, hasn’t necessarily translated into how Americans use the law. A new poll
finds that young Republicans are more likely to have health coverage
through their parents’ policy than young Democrats
, an option widely
expanded under the Affordable Care Act.

* * *

Right now, 45 percent of young Democrats receive coverage through their
parents’ plan, compared to 63 percent of young Republicans.

* * *

Still, further data in the Commonwealth study suggest that the health
law is likely playing a role. Between November 2011 and March 2013, the
Commonwealth Fund also saw a spike in awareness of the provision among
young Republicans, a change that did not occur among their Democratic
counterparts. At the same time that this demographic learned about the
dependent coverage provision, they were also signing up at a higher
rate.

For Sara Collins, a vice president at the Commonwealth Fund
who lead the study, this explains why Republican enrollment in their
parents’ plans increased over the past 18 months while Democratic sign
ups stayed stable.

“There wasn’t much of a change in Democratic awareness,”
Collins says. “It went from 63 to 64 percent of registered Democrats who
were aware. But if you look at awareness among young adults registered
as Republicans it went from 62 percent in November 2011 to 74 percent in
March 2013.”

Collins said that much of the enrollment was driven by
lower-income Republicans, who also became more aware of the dependent
coverage option over the 18-month study.

The Commonwealth Fund study suggests that the partisan
divide over Obamacare may not restrain who signs up. It certainly
doesn’t look to have impacted how young adults have used one of the
law’s earliest provisions.

"If past is any prologue, the Commonwealth data suggests that Republicans
could indeed come around to purchasing insurance on the new
marketplaces. It’s just unlikely to happen overnight, and will likely
require an even greater awareness push."

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