Not only is enrollment in the Obamacare healthcare exchanges trending older, but it is also skewing sicker.
Since the launch of the exchanges, the Reuters/Ipsos daily poll has been surveying some 350 people daily and 2,500 weekly to determine just who is enrolling in the exchanges, including questions involving their subjects’ health status.
According to Reuters/Ipsos data, more “sick” people have signed up for the exchanges than “non-sick” people, however, overtime the enrollment trends suggest the distorted ratio could become more balanced.
“Our data indicate that sicker people are signing up with the exchanges at a higher rate than non-sick people. This indicates that in addition to skewing older, the exchanges are currently skewing sicker.” Ipsos Public Affairs research director Chris Jackson writes in a Thursday blog post.
In October, the percent of enrollees with a health issue compared to the percentage of those without a major health issue was 69 percent to 31 percent; In November, that ratio was 55 percent to 45 percent; In December, 49 percent to 51 percent; and January 40 percent to 60 percent.
“The sickest people signed up first; over time, more healthy people are signing up. This data strongly suggests that the earliest adopters – the individuals who fought through the worst of the Healthcare.gov snafus – were disproportionately suffering from major health issues,” Jackson writes. “This makes sense because you would have to be very concerned with your health to deal with that challenges of the first month of the federal exchange website.”
Jackson ends his post on a positive note, explaining that while there was a disproportionate interest in the exchanges on the part of “sick” people during the early struggles of Obamacare, their data show that more non-sick people enrolled in the first few weeks of January.
“If this trend continues, the exchanges might be sustainable after all,” he writes.