Young millennials shun Obamacare, creating risky imbalance

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A Gallup survey released this week painted a rosier picture for the law than Harvard’s study. It found that young people are not significantly more likely than older people to pay the fine rather than buy coverage.

Among respondents younger than 30, 68 percent told Gallup that they would acquire insurance — it does not specify whether it would be through an exchange — and 26 percent say they would pay the fine. Those 30 and older produced a 60 percent to 30 percent split.

“The fact that younger uninsured Americans are no more likely than older uninsured Americans to say they will pay the fine could be a positive sign for the law’s ability to keep insurance affordable,” Gallup said, “assuming that the younger uninsured are no less healthy than the older uninsured.”

Government subsidies are available to help low- and middle-income Americans pay their premiums on the exchanges, and Democrats frequently note that young adults can stay on their parents’ health care plans until age 26.

The exchanges have been open for more than two months, but the HealthCare.gov portal, which is handling enrollment for most of the country, has been plagued by problems.

Early enrollment figures from the federal government don’t give details by age. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said Wednesday that the next batch of enrollment information would be released in mid-December, but it is unclear whether the new tables will incorporate age data.

A CMS official said the agency has “prioritized reporting of the metrics which provide the most accurate snapshot of Marketplace enrollment-related activity at this time,” and “will provide additional metrics when we are able to.”

Some state-run exchanges are releasing age-related figures.

Enrollees up to age 34 made up 28 percent of the California exchange’s enrollment as of Nov. 6, with those 35 and older accounting for the remaining 72 percent. The exchange said those figures align with the state’s population.

“Not only are we seeing strong enrollment numbers overall, but enrollment in key demographics like the so-called young invincibles is very encouraging,” Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee said Nov. 21.

In Minnesota, enrollees up to age 30 made up about 23 percent of enrollment, those ages 30 to 50 comprised 28 percent, and those 51 and older accounted for 49 percent through Nov. 30, according to an MNSure Metrics report.

Kentucky’s state-run exchange, kynect, also touted positive figures this week.

“Thanks to kynect,” officials said, “more than 60,000 Kentuckians are enrolled in new health insurance, and 41 percent of them are under the age of 35 — a rate that has held steady for several weeks.”

Ben Wolfgang contributed to this report.

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