Obamacare Falls Short in Enrollees Age 18-35 With a Low 28 Percent

Friday, 18 Apr 2014 10:32 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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The Obama administration has announced that the number of people age 18-35 enrolled in Obamacare is 28 percent — a figure that is still well below the 40 percent needed to make the health reform law a viable institution.

But although that's worrying news for the Affordable Care Act, the news is even worse for millions of Americans — there could be substantial rate hikes on health insurance premiums in 2015, according to the National Journal.

President Barack Obama and his staff met on Thursday in the White House for an hour with state representatives from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), and directly following the meeting the commissioners were shown the new enrollment numbers, according to The Hill.

The 44 commissioners were told that 35 percent of people who have signed up for Obamacare enrollees are under the age of 35, the Journal reported. But administration officials also noted that only 28 percent of enrollees are in the coveted 18-35 age bracket, meaning that 7 percent of enrollees are under 18.

The administration has repeatedly said that Obamacare specifically needs young people, ages 18-35, to make 40 percent of total signups to offset the costs of care for less healthy and older people, the Fiscal Times reported. But the new figures show that the enrollees are still 12 percentage points below that vital number.

Nevertheless, NAIC President-Elect Monica Lindeen was elated by the figures. "That's a pretty good number in terms of trying to make sure that we have a healthy [risk] pool," she told The Hill.

But the current NAIC President, Adam Hamm, was slightly more guarded, saying he wanted to see more detailed figures before deciding whether Obamacare was working — or not.

The meeting, attended by Vice President Joe Biden, outgoing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Commissioner Marilyn Tavenner, also raised the question of potential rate increases in 2015.

The Hill reported that the administration is "hoping to use its influence to prevent substantial price hikes" that could hurt incumbent Democrats in the upcoming elections.

But Hamm, North Dakota's insurance commissioner, admitted that NAIC is expecting to receive a slew of suggested hikes pouring into his headquarters.

"I don't have specific information for you," Hamm said. "I would be speculating. We'll see the rate-increase requests when they come into our office. All of us will do the same job on those rate-increase requests as we've done historically — only approve those that are justified."

And pointing out that the NAIC would not be affected by any outside influence, he added, "You can't play politics with rates, and that's not something we're going to do."

Hamm also noted that that they have to balance the books between what consumers can afford to pay to what insurance companies must bill to keep them afloat, the Journal said.

But he warned that such factors as "unknown risk pools or transitioning grandfathered plans" might result in higher rates, or even possibly lead to lower rates.

The White House announced on Thursday that 8 million people nationwide have enrolled in private plans on the federal and state health insurance exchanges. And the president announced that "this thing is working."

Following Obama's boast, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer said Thursday on Fox's "Special Report with Bret Baier" that Obamacare is only "working in that it exists."

Krauthammer said the health reform law "is hurting the doctor, hurting the hospital, hurting the patient, it's hurting the economy. It's going to cost a fortune."

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