Insurers say that those who have bought insurance through the Affordable Care Act exchanges are older than expected so far, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Young, healthy individuals have long been held up as the group key to the law's success, and they have been the target of a great deal of enrollment outreach. Because they tend to have lower health care costs, they are crucial to balancing out the higher costs of older, sicker enrollees. If the trend toward older enrollees continues, it could drive costs up and create problems for insurers.
However, it remains too early in the enrollment period to draw any conclusions.
In fact, as of Oct. 11, The Washington Post reported the opposite: Young people had been among the most enthusiastic shoppers so far, with high enrollments cited in the state exchanges in Connecticut and Maryland.
The reported trend toward older enrollees makes sense, but it is not necessarily indicative of what the pool will ultimately look like. The problems with HealthCare.gov and a few other state exchanges are preventing many from signing up for now, and those who are more persistent will tend to be those who more desperately need insurance coverage.
The Obama administration fully expects most young, healthy people to wait until the last minute to enroll, based on past data from Massachusetts.
Individuals must enroll by Dec. 15 to receive coverage beginning Jan. 1, and the open enrollment period ends March 31.