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Obamacare Provision For Young People Is Actually Hurting Enrollment Numbers

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter
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The provision under Obamacare which allow for those under the age of 26 to stay on their parents’ insurance plans is actually drastically lowering Millennial enrollment in the healthcare exchanges.

Under the Young Adult Coverage provision of the Affordable Care Act, parents can add or keep their children on their health insurance plan until they turn 26 years old. As a result, some 3 million young people are staying on their parents’ insurance plans, a figure double the number of people ages 18-25 currently enrolled in the exchanges.

Hoping to gain more Millennial participants, the Obama administration turned to social media and campus awareness campaigns in September. Thus far, however, the administration is down 10 percent for its enrollment goal for Americans younger than age 34 in 2016.

Other reasons might explain why young people are choosing to opt out of the healthcare exchanges.

For starters, insurance premiums are expected to rise dramatically in 2017. The Obama administration reported that premiums will increase at an average of 25 percent across the 39 states serviced by the online marketplace healthcare.gov. That increase is five times the increase workers are likely to observe in the cost of employer-provided health benefits in 2016.

People between the ages of 18 and 25 have the highest likelihood of opting out the healthcare exchanges, and given the increase in premiums, it would make sense that some would opt out altogether. The period of time elapsing between 18 and 35 is when young adults have the lowest earning potential, and consequently, smaller disposable income to absorb shocks like a 25 percent spike in the cost of healthcare coverage.

Even if young people participate in the exchanges, around 20 percent of consumers — or, one in five — will only have one insurer to choose from in the marketplace. (RELATED: White House Says Obamacare Premiums Will Rise By Double Digits Next Year)

The Obama administration is so keen on Millennial enrollment because the system needs younger, healthier people to offset the cost of older and more illness-prone members of society. It is a difficult sell for the administration, because many young people faced with the choice of staying on their parents’ health insurance (at not cost to them) or enrolling on their own will choose the status quo.

Given that health insurance could cost a young person hundreds of dollars a month, many choose to spend their money on more immediate needs.

There are other urgent problems facing Obamacare besides rising premiums. Some 17 co-ops have failed, insurance regulators in Tennessee and North Carolina are warning of exchange collapses and health experts are not optimistic about the future of the legislation.

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