Private Health Exchange: Obamacare Hiked Health Care Costs For Young Adults

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Young adults still think health insurance is too expensive — especially after Obamacare hiked health care costs for most, according to a survey from top private health exchange eHealth.

The private, online health exchange has won more young adults over to its business than the federally- and state-run Obamacare exchanges.

But while eHealth has gotten a large chunk of those between the ages of 18 and 25 to sign up for coverage, young adults still overwhelming believe they can’t afford health coverage, and Obamacare is making things worse. Sixty-three percent of respondents said the health care law upped their premiums; 48 percent said it increased their annual deductible.

Among those who purchased eHealth plans, 62 percent believe their monthly insurance premiums are more expensive than they can comfortably afford. That’s with Obamacare subsidies, however — eHealth was one of few private carriers to win an exception from the Obama administration to offer the federal taxpayer premium credits on its coverage. Only a small subset of the company’s customers are eligible for the subsidies — but with those on and off the exchange calling health care costs too high, support for the health care law among young adults could slip.

Young adults are even less enthusiastic about the cost of deductibles on their health coverage. Seventy-three percent told eHealth that their annual deductibles are too costly for them to comfortably afford. While premium costs have been the primary hurdle for Obamacare enrollment efforts, many customers are facing skyrocketing out of pocket costs that could prevent them from actually using their new insurance.

Sixty-nine percent said they’d only be comfortable with a monthly premium of $100 or less, while 56 percent would be comfortable with an annual deductible of $1,000 or less — significantly less than bronze-rated plans, which usually offer a deductible around $6,000. Almost two thirds, 64 percent, said they do not have enough money saved to pay their current deductible if they had to, such as in the event of a sudden, costly illness or injury. The discrepancy could force young adults in particular to go without health care even though they’re counted as insured. 

The company’s customers that signed up during Obamacare’s open enrollment period are paying an average premium of $146 per month with an annual deductible of $4,955, eHealth reported.

Obamacare appears to have disproportionately affected young adults. Sixty-three percent said they were forced to change insurance plans due to the health care law, and another 30 percent had to change their doctors, according to eHealth.

It’s not that young adults dislike their health insurance plans — 59 percent said they were happy with their coverage, while 41 percent weren’t. But the prices are prohibitive for some.

Young adults are a key demographic to keep health insurance rates low on and off Obamacare exchanges, as insurers are looking for young and healthy customers that don’t cost much to insure. But it’s possible that customers will begin to drop out if its not financially viable to continue paying health insurance premiums month after month — especially if drastically high out-of-pocket costs prevent young adults from being able to actually seek health care.

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Tags : obamacare
Sarah Hurtubise