White House Dismisses Concerns About Lack of Young, Healthy PPACA Enrollees

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act marketplaces are on track to enroll an adequate amount of young, healthy people, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said during a press briefing yesterday.

Mr. Carney made his statement in response to a question about concerns expressed by Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), who said in a radio interview he didn't think enough young people would sign up for health plans through the PPACA marketplaces.

"We are seeing, and we saw in December, a significant surge in the percentage of young Americans under 35 enrolling," Mr. Carney said during the briefing. He also said the total number of PPACA marketplace sign-ups has hit and probably surpassed 3 million.

As of Dec. 28, just 24 percent of those who had signed up for health plans through the exchanges were between the ages of 18 and 34, according to an HHS report released earlier this month. The marketplaces need to enroll young adults in about the same proportion they represent in the pool of potential individual insurance market enrollees (40 percent) to counteract the higher claims costs of older, less healthy enrollees, according to a report from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Otherwise, insurers' total costs for the exchanges will be higher than premium revenues.

However, according to Kaiser Family Foundation analysts, even if young adults end up representing only 25 percent of enrollees, insurers would still be expected to earn profits and a premium "death spiral" — a situation in which insurers would need to substantially raise premiums, which would subsequently make it even less likely that young, healthy people would enroll — would most likely not occur.

More Articles on PPACA Exchanges:
3 Key Findings on Consumer Health Plan Choices on PPACA Exchanges
3 Observations on "Young Invincibles" and the PPACA
4 Early Observations on PPACA Enrollment 

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