- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Obama administration said Tuesday it will herd uninsured Americans into Obamacare plans this fall by targeting young adults and working with the IRS to root out people who paid a penalty for lacking coverage last year.

Officials said people who were fined under the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate can expect to receive a paper notice that explains their coverage options on the law’s web-based exchanges. The state of Massachusetts is already working with its revenue agency to locate the uninsured, and the Obama administration said those efforts appeared to be working.

The Health and Human Services Department said nearly half — or 45 percent — of people who paid the mandate tax or claimed an exemption from it for the 2014 tax year were under age 35, even though the age group accounted for only 30 percent of all taxpayers overall.

These young adults tend to be healthier than the rest of the market, so the administration wants to prod them into the exchanges to keep premiums down.

That strategy will include targeted email alerts — those under age 35 respond well to digital reminders — when Obamacare’s fourth round of enrollment begins Nov. 1.



HHS will email consumers who open an account but don’t start an application, begin an application but don’t finish it or select a plan and then don’t pay their first premium.

“We’ve learned that sending an email, with the right information, at just the right time, can make a significant difference in whether someone gets covered, and those are lessons we’ll act on this year,” the agency said.

President Obama is trying to place his signature domestic achievement on surer footing before he leaves office in January.

HHS recently tightened up eligibility rules on people who sign up outside the normal enrollment period, after insurers complained that consumers tended to sign up once they got sick, rather than enrolling while healthy.

Also Tuesday, HHS said it will target consumers who can stay on their parents’ insurance until age 25, a key pillar of Obamacare, but must fend for themselves upon turning 26.

The latest Census data shows that uninsured rates jump by 4 percentage points between ages 25 and 26, so the administration says there is clear evidence of a drop-off in coverage, once young adults age out of their parents’ employer-based plans.

The Department of Labor will issue guidance that encourages the issuers of those plans to reach out to 26-year-olds and explain their options in the Obamacare marketplace.

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