Young Consumers Not Using Healthcare Exchanges

According to reports from the Obama administration about healthcare enrollment in the online marketplace through January, only 25 percent of consumers who have purchased healthcare plans fall into the critical 18-34 demographic. The figure is far lower than the number of young consumers who have created accounts on the exchanges.

Many experts and administration officials have touted the importance of young consumers using the healthcare exchanges to balance the cost of care for older patients. While insurance companies can vary costs to a certain degree based on age, it is not enough on its own to control the difference in healthcare needs between the two demographics. A continued slump of young enrollees could prompt insurance providers to raise premiums significantly within the coming years, which would put a strain on the entire system.

One potential explanation for the lack of enrollment in the younger demographic is its overlap with another provision of the Affordable Care Act which allows parents to keep adult children up to age 26 on their own health insurance. The overlap affects nearly half of the exchanges’ target demographic, specifically college students and young post-graduates.

The federal government is not alone in fretting over low enrollment; states running their own exchanges, such as Minnesota, are also experiencing enrollment that skews toward the older demographic.

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