Administration officials released demographic information Monday for those who have signed up for Obamacare.  While the overall signup numbers are increasing, it’s largely been older customers signing up so far.

From the Wall Street Journal:

More than half of those signing up for private health plans on new insurance exchanges are 45 or older, the Obama administration said Monday, a sign that the rough rollout of the exchanges may have skewed early enrollment.

In all, nearly 2.2 million people across the country signed up for individual coverage through Dec. 28, with a significant uptick in December after anemic numbers in October and November as consumers battled through technical problems.

With the worst of those problems largely resolved at the federal website, attention is now shifting to the demographics of the new enrollees, which is likely to determine the long-term impact of the law.

At the heart of the health overhaul law is a change in the way insurance is priced. Consumers no longer pay premiums based on their health risks, and health plans are limited in how much they can vary prices based on age. To keep prices in check in the new market, carriers say they need strong enrollment from younger people who are likely to be healthier, to balance out the bills that could be racked up by sicker and older people. If that doesn’t happen, prices will likely spike sharply in subsequent years, actuaries say.

Across the country, some 33% of the nearly 2.2 million people who signed up were between the ages of 55 and 64, and an additional 22% were between 45 and 54, according to nationwide data compiled by the Department of Health and Human Services. The federal government is running insurance exchanges on behalf of 36 states, while 14 states and the District of Columbia are operating their own exchanges.

For young adults between the ages of 18-34, the numbers to date lag behind the 40% that health industry experts have suggested is necessary to help keep costs under control.

From ABC News:

From Oct. 1 through Dec. 28, nearly a quarter of the nearly 2.2 million individuals who selected a health care plan through the state and federal exchanges were between the ages of 18 and 34, Health and Human Services said. Health industry experts have estimated that around 40 percent of enrollees must be young adults for the president’s signature health care plan to keep premiums in check.

In the District of Columbia, 44 percent of individuals who selected health care plans were between the ages of 18 and 34, but no state reached the 40 percent figure for youth sign-ups. Arizona, Arkansas, Maine, New Mexico and West Virginia were among the states with the lowest percentage of young people  – between 17 and 18 percent – signing up for health care.

Another issue of course is that we still don’t have definitive numbers pertaining to how many have made payments on their premiums.  The administration did not provide information on that statistic, among others, according to the NY Times.

Federal officials do not know how many of the people selecting plans were previously uninsured, how many were African-American or Hispanic, or how many have paid premiums. Consumers are required to pay their share before coverage takes effect.

The new year seems to be beginning with more uncertainty as we wait to see how the numbers work out over the next several months and into the following years.


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