The Department of Health and Human Services released new Obamacare numbers Monday for the federal exchange and the 14 state exchanges, including demographic information for the first time.
As of December 28, nearly 2.2 million people had selected a plan on the exchanges. 20 four per cent of them were between the ages of 18 and 35.
The White House had wanted 39% of enrollees to be within that age range to prevent insurers from receiving a significant number of high-risk beneficiaries. However, health analysts have noted in recent weeks that the age demographics are not what matters. It’s the health mix that is most important.
A recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that if young people made up 25% of enrollees, it would reduce insurer profits by 2-3%, but would not cause a “death spiral” where insurers raise premiums, driving healthy people out of the market, forcing them to raise premiums again and onwards. The administration is confident that the share of young people who sign up will only increase in the coming months.
Of the 2.15 million people who have a selected a plan, 957,000 have done so through the state exchanges and 1.2 million have done so on the federal marketplace. 60 per cent of people have selected the silver plans, which are expected to cover approximately 70% of a person’s health care costs.
After the catastrophic launch of the federal website, the pace of enrollments has improved each week, as many expected would happen as the deadline for selecting a plan approached. More than seven times as many people signed up on the federal exchange in the first 28 days of December as did so throughout all of October and November.
An additional 3.9 million people were deemed eligible either for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). It’s unclear how many of those 3.9 million are newly eligible because of the Affordable Care Act or have just became aware in recent weeks that they were already eligible.
The administration did not say how many people had paid their first premiums, only how many had chosen a plan. Many insurers allowed people to pay their first premiums up until January 10 – or in some cases even later. The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that one third-party billing firm that works with insurers in 17 states said that only two-thirds of those who have signed up have actually paid so far.
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