The group whose participation is most needed in the new exchanges under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is unaware of what the exchanges will offer them, just weeks before they are supposed to roll out.
Just 27 percent of people ages 19 to 29 said they’ve heard of the exchanges, set to open for enrollment Oct. 1, while 70 percent hadn’t, according to research from the Commonwealth Fund. The foundation polled almost 1,900 people between November 2011 and March 2013.
The lack of knowledge was greatest among those the administration most wants to enroll in the exchanges — those who had been uninsured in the past year, and those with the lowest incomes. Just 19 percent of young adults who had been uninsured during the year and 18 percent of low-income young adults were aware of the marketplaces.
The administration has aggressively tried to push enrollment of young people into the exchanges, as their participation is needed for the law’s success. White House officials have said that the participation of 2.7 million young — and presumably healthy — individuals in the exchanges is needed to offset the cost of enrolling older, sicker individuals.
Just this week, the Department of Health and Human Services, working with a nonprofit group called the Young Invincibles, launched a contest trying to encourage young adults to make videos promoting the law’s provisions.
“Young adults’ participation in the nation’s new insurance marketplaces is essential: as a healthier-than-average population, it allows for comprehensive health plans to be offered at affordable prices to all enrollees over time,” the Commonwealth Fund report said. “However, concern is widespread that young adults will continue to go uninsured, despite the new options available to them under the law.”
And Commonwealth researchers — a group that has supported PPACA — insisted that the law can help young adults a lot: Up to 82 percent of nearly 16 million uninsured young U.S. adults would qualify for federal subsidies or Medicaid under Obamacare, they concluded.