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Government agencies still push for young people on exchanges

Health Care and Health Insurance
by Bonnie Albritton
Government agencies still push for young people on exchanges
Government agencies still push for young people on exchanges

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's mandated health insurance exchanges have been running effectively in the past few months after a start that was shaky to say the least, but many experts note that enrollment among the people deemed most critical to the marketplaces' success - those who are young and healthy - has lagged behind considerably.

The federal government has therefore launched a new campaign to help young people in particular understand the ways in which the exchanges can help them, according to a report from the Associated Press. That includes sending government workers and volunteers alike to places where they're likely to run across a large number of young people, such as college campuses, bars, and more, to ask whether they have health insurance as well as what they know about the marketplaces and their eligibility for them.

Matt Saniie, who serves as analytics director at the organization Enroll America but also worked for President Barack Obama's re-election campaign in 2012, told the news organization that the approach in both cases is more or less the same, the report said. It involves identifying people who are most likely to fit into the necessary demographics and educating and encouraging them about the issues.

How much progress is being made?
The Obama administration recently announced that through the middle of January, about 3 million people had signed up for the exchanges, but no demographic information had been released, the report said. However, an earlier release said that only about one in four of the 2.2 million people who had signed up through the end of December fell between the ages of 18 and 34 years old.

Further, the White House further notes that officials always thought that the bulk of sign-ups among millennials would come closer to the March 31 enrollment deadline anyway. Those who do not have coverage by that time will face federal fines of the greater of either $95 or 1 percent of their income.

Health insurance issuers can certainly also take part in this kind of education effort, as having a larger number of young, healthy Americans in their pool of policyholders can help to mitigate some of the cost concerns associated with having an increase in enrollment among older people. Highlighting the potential penalties millennials may face not only this year, but also in 2015 and 2016, for not having coverage could be a source of significant encouragement.

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