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Young people key to ACA success, but desire to enroll is in question

Health Care and Health Insurance
by Jacqueline Lee
Young people key to ACA success, but desire to enroll is in question
Young people key to ACA success, but desire to enroll is in question

The Affordable Care Act's coverage mandate goes into effect at the start of next year. Because of this looming date, many are now turning their attention to young people's reaction to the idea that they have to carry insurance policies, which most do not currently have.

It has been widely acknowledged that young people could be a key to the successful operation of the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchanges. The main reason for this perception is that younger people will help subsidize higher costs, making policies less expensive for people older than them. Now, though, the question is whether they will actually enroll in these marketplaces, according to a report from CNBC.

Recent research suggests that about 20 percent of people younger than 30 years old with full-time jobs did not receive health insurance, compared with 8.2 percent of people in their 50s with similar work situations. Part of this disparity is that those under the age of 26 are able to be covered by their parents' plans under the ACA, but that still leaves millions uninsured after that point, the report said.

In all, the Obama administration is on record as hoping that about 2.7 million young people sign up for state or federal health insurance exchanges, as they may serve to make coverage more affordable for others. Meanwhile, they would also be eligible for tax credits for those making as much as $45,000 per year, or about 400 percent of the federal poverty line

Some speculate that rather than take on even relatively low-cost plans, young people might instead opt to pay the fine that comes with not being covered at all, the report said. Where the former could cost upwards of thousands of dollars annually, estimates show that the fines may as low as $95 in some cases, and those with already-tight budgets due to constrained incomes could simply opt to pay that fine and continue to go without coverage altogether. In many cases, these people are generally young and healthy, and face little reason to seek any sort of healthcare over the course of a given year.

For these reasons, companies that will have to become ACA-compliant by the start of next year, and which employ a large number of young workers, may want to think carefully about the offerings they extend to workers as a means of striking a balance between cost and need.



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