Tuesday, January 14, 2014

ACA enrollment figures are encouraging

Young people either are or aren’t signing up in sufficient numbers to balance costs in the new insurance market created by the Affordable Care Act, depending on which partisan source you are believing.

The best factual source, however, is Kaiser Health News (kaiserhealthnews.org), which deals only in the facts.

KHN reported that “nearly a quarter of the 2.2 million people who have enrolled in health coverage in the health law’s insurance marketplaces are young adults — the population that’s hardest to reach and yet most vital for the financial stability of the new exchanges.”

That about sums it up.

"More than 6 million Americans have now either signed up for a private health insurance plan through the Marketplace or for Medicaid coverage," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said.

"Through December, 30 percent of those who enrolled were under age 35, with 24 percent being between the ages of 18 and 34 — consistent with the proportion of the population in this age group and in keeping with where Massachusetts enrollment was at this point," Sebelius reported. "More importantly, it is a sign of a clear demand for health insurance."

Commenting on the data, U.S. Rep Sander Levin of Royal Oak, ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, pointed out that:

• 54 percent of those who have signed up are women and 46 percent are men;

• 30 percent are age 34 and under;

• 79 percent selected a plan with financial assistance.

KHN reported that a recent survey by the Coomonwealth Fund, a non-partisan research group, found that 41 percent of those who had shopped on state marketplaces were ages 19 to 34.

Meanwhile, "a study in November by the Kaiser Family Foundation )KHN us an editorially independet program of the foundation), downplayed concerns about so-called death spiral if not enough young people enrolled. Under a worst-case scenario in which just 25 percent of enrollees are age 18 to 34, then insurers would have to raise premiums by just 2.4 percent in 2015.

The bottom line is that Obamacare is here to stay. It won't be repealed. If it needs to be improved, let's fix it.

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