In February, for the second consecutive month, young adults made up 27 percent of those who had successfully purchased coverage through the online insurance marketplace in Texas, compared to 25 percent of those who enrolled nationally, according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The Obama administration has said that young adults — who are generally healthy and have fewer medical costs — should make up 40 percent of those insured through the marketplace to offset the costs of older, higher-risk patients and keep premiums down.
“The next couple of weeks are going to be instrumental,” said Sara Smith, program director for the pro-ACA Texas Public Interest Research Group, which advocates on consumer issues. “We have two weeks to inform the state’s most uninformed health care consumers.”
John Davidson, senior health care policy analyst for the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation, said that will be a futile battle, given that costs for young people under Obamacare aren't minimal.
“The ACA was sold as something that would make health care cheaper. A lot of people are going on the exchange expecting their plans to be free or very inexpensive, and that’s just not the case,” he said. “...Young, healthy people aren’t going to want to pay rates like this, especially if they don’t have to go to the doctor."
Before the implementation of the ACA, insurance companies often charged a five-to-one ratio or higher for monthly premiums based on a consumer's age, according to America’s Health Insurance Plans, the national trade association representing the health insurance industry. The new law limits this ratio to three to one. In order to make this system work, the Obama administration has said that young adults need to enroll at high enough rates to yield a surplus in premium revenue — which insurance companies can then allocate to help cover the expected deficit created by lower premiums for older patients.