Rocky transitions hinder enrollment among young adults

Young woman on a computer

Young adults serve as a key demographic in balancing the health insurance risk pool, but state efforts to transition this population from childhood Medicaid coverage to the insurance marketplace has proved difficult, according to Kaiser Health News.

Last month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced a new outreach program that would target young adults who paid the uninsured tax penalty--a group that would “contribute to a more balanced marketplace risk pool and lower costs.” But policy experts tell KHN that the current process of transitioning young adults to Medicaid or marketplace plans is still rife with inefficiencies. State systems don’t often recognize if a 19-year-old coming off of childhood coverage is eligible for an adult Medicaid plan. Those who aren’t eligible for Medicaid are offered little guidance on how to obtain coverage through the ACA exchanges.

Furthermore, a cumbersome enrollment process prompts many young adults to abandon it altogether, and new special enrollment period rules could further complicate that process since young adults are more likely to move than older adults. On the flip side, birth control coverage is often a top selling point for young women.

In the past, insurers have tried various marketing approaches to lure the coveted younger demographic into purchasing coverage, and the Obama administration has even recruited comedians and pop culture icons to promote health reform. Although the Affordable Care Act has helped put a dent in rising uninsured rates among young adults, the group remains difficult to reach.

- read the KHN article