Insurers Report That Enrollees in ACA Exchanges Are Older Than Expected So Far

Younger individuals will likely sign up closer to the enrollment deadline.

Students and other attendees listen as US President Barack Obama speaks at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on January 27, 2012 expanding on his State of the Union proposals to keep college affordable and within reach for all Americans. AFP Photo/Jewel Samad (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
National Journal
Sophie Novack
Nov. 5, 2013, 1:46 a.m.

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. 

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