WHAT OTHERS SAY: Yes, 20-somethings need health insurance

Monday, January 20, 2014 | 6:00 a.m. CST

About 2.2 million Americans have now enrolled in health coverage through the new insurance exchanges. That’s a welcome number, considering the badly bungled rollout of, the online federal marketplace. The website is working much more smoothly now for enrollees, although a couple of the state-based sites still have issues.

But more than half of the enrollees so far are in the 45- to-64-year-old age bracket. That group racks up higher medical costs than the 18- to 34-year-old demographic, which accounts for only about a fourth of the enrollment so far. Insurers say they need to have younger consumers in the pool to hold down the costs of policies.

The shortage so far of the “young healthies,” as they are called, isn’t necessarily a cause for panic. It makes sense that older people who depend on medical care would be the first to sign up. But more youthful consumers are needed before this year’s open enrollment period ends March 31.

Foes of “Obamacare” have targeted young people with unhelpful messages, urging them not to sign up for insurance and pay a fine instead.

Talk about bad advice.

Many young consumers will find they are eligible for subsidies, enabling them to buy insurance at surprisingly low rates. Those who choose to opt out will be subject to a tax penalty, and they’ll receive nothing for it. What they will receive is the full bill for any routine or emergency medical expense they may accrue. And a one-time trip to the emergency room — for a sprained ankle, say — can run into thousands of dollars.

In Missouri, 33,138 persons, many of them previously uninsured, had selected health plans through the insurance exchanges as of Dec. 31. That’s about 60 percent of the target number for new enrollees set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Kansas had recorded 14,242 private plan signups by the end of last year, which is 57 percent of the target.

In both states, the percentage of 18- to 34-year-olds signing up was close to the 24 percent national average.

Considerable confusion continues to swirl around the health care law. Health and community groups should step up efforts to educate people, especially young consumers, about the exchanges.

Copyright The Kansas City Star. Reprinted with permission.

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Dave Overfelt January 20, 2014 | 7:35 a.m.

Correct if by "surprisingly low rates" you mean health insurance in Missouri will cost me 10% to 15% of my annual income for an almost useless product.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams January 20, 2014 | 8:43 a.m.

If you wanted the 18-34 y/o demographic to sign up, why the hell did you allow them to stay on parental policies until they were 26?

Yes, an ER trip can run into the thousands.

So can deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses. The article's comment about "stepping up [education] efforts" needs to include this information, but I find this detail is generally left is the case here. I wonder why?

Doesn't sell well, does it?

Neither does lying by omission.***

The 18-34 y/o demographic is engaged in a steep learning curve and I'm doubting they like it much.

***"Considerable confusion continues to swirl around the health care law..."

THAT'S certainly true....partly by lies of omission and partly due to some of the most magnificent governmental incompetence I've witnessed in my life.

PS: The political gift that keeps on giving, month after month after month.

(Report Comment)
Bob Ebbesmeyer January 20, 2014 | 12:50 p.m.

Why do they use the age bracket 18-34? The majority of 18-26 year olds are not signing up because they are still on a parent's plan. So really we are looking at 27-34 year olds, with a significantly smaller number of 18-26 year olds. So if, as stated, about one quarter of those signing up fall into the 18-34 demographic, and we know it really is the eight years included in the 27-34 demographic, I question whether we really have an issue with young adults not signing up as the "problem" demographic would be roughly or even a bit less than one quarter of the whole population that should be signing up. It appears that one quarter is really where it should be.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams January 20, 2014 | 3:06 p.m.

Well, this is fun:

We shall see........and everyone will have a front-row seat.

Each month.

(Report Comment)

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