(Bloomberg) People who waited until the last minute to sign up for Obamacare were significantly younger than those first in line, as the percentage of enrollees younger than 35 jumped in the last month, officials said. President Barack Obama also said Thursday that 8 million people have now enrolled in private insurance plans through the public exchanges as data continues to trickle in following the March 31 open enrollment deadline.
About 35% of Americans who signed up for a private plan using new insurance exchanges were in the young adult age group, state insurance commissioners said after a meeting with President Barack Obama and his top staff. Thats a four percentage point rise since March 1, when the government reported than 31% were under age 35.
Youth enrollment is treated as a proxy for the number of healthy people signing up, a concern of insurers with plans on the exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. To avoid large premium increases next year, the plans need as many healthy customers as possible to balance the risk of covering older and sicker Americans.
Its good news for insurer finances, particularly if lots of healthy people signed up along with younger folks. said Larry Levitt, a senior vice president at the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation, in Menlo Park, Calif..
Spokespeople for the Obama administration didnt immediately respond to e-mails seeking to confirm the figure.
The commissioners, including Mike Consedine of Pennsylvania and Adam Hamm of North Dakota, met with Obama and aides including outgoing health secretary Kathleen Sebelius for more than an hour today, the commissioners said. Obama provided the new information on enrollment, Consedine told reporters in a conference call.
Hamm, a Republican, cautioned that the figure doesnt guarantee insurers wont try to raise rates.
If its folks under the age of 35 who are still sick or are incurring a lot of claims, thats going to add to the mix in terms of what the rates need to be for those products, Hamm said. The more important demographic is whats the health of folks enrolling in these products.
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