- Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Obamacare has a millennials problem, and the healthcare program is struggling to get rid of it.
To recap, one of the main reasons that large health insurance firms such as Aetna and United Healthcare care ditching the public insurance exchanges of the Affordable Care Act – also known as Obamacare – is because not enough young, healthy people are signing up.
Insurers need young people to, in a basic sense, pay into the system, since they tend to be healthier and use fewer healthcare services – thus partially subsidizing the older and less healthy people that cost more to cover than they pay in.
Since the rollout of the exchanges, the number of young, healthy people signing up has not been enough to offset the sicker population, leading to millions of dollars in losses for many insurers.
According to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics division, it appears that the gap between the percentage of younger and older people without insurance is not closing.
About 16% of Americans ages 25 to 34 do not have health insurance, according to NCHS data released on Wednesday. About 14% of those ages 35 to 44 go without coverage as well.
When you get to the ages 45 to 64 bracket, however, that figure drops to just 8.1%.
- Centers of Disease Control and Prevention
While the uninsured rate for each of the three age groups has declined, the gap among the age brackets has stayed stubbornly consistent. The roughly 8 percentage point gap between the youngest non-Medicare-eligible cohort and the oldest is slightly smaller than it was before the ACA, but evidently it has not closed enough to make a difference for the risk pools in the exchanges.
The hope of Obamacare was that with the combination of accessibility and penalties, more young people would get covered. If the gap were to close, this could recalibrate the risk and make the exchanges more financially viable for large insurers.
There is still some hope. The gap has closed some – but not as much as Obamacare’s architects had hoped. Additionally, the full financial penalties for not having coverage are going into effect this year, potentially spurring more healthy young people to purchase insurance.
In order to address this, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services proposed new outreach funding as part of a larger package of adjustments to the ACA’s administration.