Older Americans dominate early exchange enrollment

Despite the fact that young Americans hold the key to healthcare reform success, early exchange enrollees are older than expected, according to the Wall Street Journal.

This aging trend is linked to problems with the HealthCare.gov website: Sick people who really need coverage are likely to put up with technical difficulties to get it, insurers told the WSJ, while younger, healthier adults may quit trying to apply for it.

Yet insurers are counting on young, healthy enrollees to offset the costs of insuring older, sicker and more expensive members. "The more sick people who do enroll, the more exposed [insurers] become," Jim O'Connor, an actuary for consulting from Milliman Inc., told the WSJ.

Even state marketplaces, which have had fewer enrollment problems, are seeing older-skewing enrollment trends:

  • Kentucky processed 4,631 enrollments as of Nov.1, with 40 percent of enrollees over age 55 and 24 percent under 34.
  • In Michigan, the average age of new enrollees at Priority Health is 51, up from age 41 for plans offered for the current year.
  • Wisconsin's largest nonprofit insurer, Arise Health Plan, has more than half of its 150 signees older than 50.

In response to the age trend, federal officials continue to emphasize that young people may enroll at the last minute. Moreover, a September poll of 1,053 uninsured Americans found 33 percent of young adults said they were "very" or "somewhat" likely to buy insurance through the online marketplaces, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

For more:
- read the Wall Street Journal article

Related Articles:
Exchange plans pilfer enrollees from federal marketplace
White House admits lower-than-expected enrollment
Obama says reform weeds out bad apple insurers 
Healthy young adults will shop on exchanges

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