Late last week, President Obama announced that more than 8 million had people signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. According to the White House, 35 percent of those that obtained insurance are under 35 years old and some 28 percent are between the ages of 18 and 34.
The new figures indicate that the Affordable Care Act is outperforming the administration’s targeted enrollment of 7 million, which it hit earlier this month. While enrollment of young people was up over the last several months, the 28 percent of people who bought policies that are between 18 and 34 is lower than the optimal level of 35 to 40 percent for financial viability according to experts. Young people are described as key to the success of the Affordable Care Act, because they are healthier, and as such, consume less healthcare, causing their insurance premiums to subsidize the costs of care for the sick and elderly.
Critics were quick to point out that the top-level 8 million people figure was announced without two other important figures, namely (i) the number of the 8 million people who bought insurance for the first time, and (ii) the number of those people who actually paid their first premium. Still, others note that the marked increase in people with health insurance is contributing to elevated spending on health care and medications, which rose by more than $20 billion at an annualized rate in February. Regardless of the ultimate analysis, the recent headlines are certainly of a different tone than those surrounding the shaky roll-out of HealthCare.gov last Fall.