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Obama peddles inexpensive insurance options to wary youth

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As website glitches raise fears that young, healthy people will not sign up for coverage under the new health care law, the Obama administration Monday reported that nearly half of single young adults seeking insurance could purchase a health plan for $50 or less per month.

The Department of Health and Human Services said it studied 2.9 million single adults, aged 18 to 34, from 34 of the federally facilitated and state-run insurance exchanges and found that 1.3 million could acquire a bronze plan — the plan level with the lowest costs and least protections — for no more than $50 after government subsidies are taken into account.

About two-thirds of single adults in the studied age group could pay $100 or less post-subsidy, the agency said.
"The health care law is making health insurance more affordable for young adults,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said.

The agency noted that young adults may qualify for Medicaid, a government health insurance program for low-income Americans, and that government subsidies are based on income and family size.

The agency is releasing the information as questions continue to swirl around HealthCare.gov, the federally run website that handles many of the requests for coverage under President Obama's health reforms.

The site has been plagued by technical problems since its Oct. 1 launch, forcing administration officials to defend their work and scramble to fix the system before Congress considers a delay to the individual mandate requiring all Americans to have insurance.

The mandate was placed in the law to ensure that younger, healthier people buy insurance to balance out risk pools when older, sicker consumers with pre-existing conditions get coverage because they can no longer be denied.

With the web-based system on the fritz, the administration took down the picture of a smiling, brown-haired woman on HealthCare.gov and replaced it with graphics that indicate the various ways consumers can sign up for coverage, including by paper or phone.

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