A new study from benefits administrator ADP found only 50 percent of employees under age 30 signed up for health insurance when their employers offered it. That's compared to employees who are older than 40 years, of which 70 percent obtains insurance when available.
"This has historically been the case that younger folks tend to want to go it alone, so to speak, at a much higher rate than older folks," Tim Clifford, president of ADP Benefits & Talent Management Services, told CNBC.
Researchers are applying the study results, released Wednesday, to the health insurance exchange and attempting to draw conclusions between the employer-based market and the individual market. Going forward, the concern is that if young adults don't enroll for insurance when it's practically handed to them by their employers, they likely won't go out of their way to shop for and buy coverage through the online marketplaces.
Young adults instead may just pay the penalty, which will be about $95 in the first year. "A $95 penalty, which isn't even due this fall but at tax time--and it's kind of invisible at that point--is probably not enough to change behavior," Clifford said.
Plus, benefits available through exchanges may not be as robust as employer-based health plans, driving down even further the chances of young adults obtaining insurance, reported MarketWatch.