Wednesday, April 16, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Health care signups: More older Americans so far

By
January 14, 2014 | 9 Comments

WASHINGTON — It’s an older, costlier crowd that’s signing up so far for health insurance under President Barack Obama’s law, according to government figures released Monday. Enrollments are lower for the healthy, younger Americans who will be needed to keep premiums from rising.

Young adults from 18 to 34 are only 24 percent of total enrollment, the administration said in its first signup figures broken down for age, gender and other details. With the HealthCare.gov website now working, the figures cover the more than 2 million Americans who had signed up for government-subsidized private insurance through the end of December in new federal and state markets.

Enrolling young and healthy people is important because they generally pay more into the system than they take out, subsidizing older adults. While 24 percent is not a bad start, say independent experts, it should be closer to 40 percent to help keep premiums down.

Adults ages 55-64 were the most heavily represented in the signups, accounting for 33 percent of the total. Overall, the premiums paid by people in that demographic don’t fully cover their medical expenses. Some are in the waiting room for Medicare; that coverage starts at age 65.

Some questions remained unanswered.

For example, the administration is unable to say how of many of those enrolling for coverage had been previously uninsured. Some might have been among the more than 4.7 million insured people whose previous policies were canceled because they didn’t meet the law’s standards.

“The uninsured folks for whom the law was intended don’t seem to have signed up in nearly as high numbers,” said Richard Foster, a former statistics chief for the Health and Human Services department. “There is still a huge unknown aspect to this.”

But even if the age mix remains tilted toward older adults, “it’s nothing of the sort that would trigger instability in the system,” said Larry Levitt, an insurance expert with the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. Premiums would go up next year for the overhaul, along with taxpayer costs per enrollee, but not enough to push the system into a “death spiral” in which rising premiums discourage healthy people from signing up.

Levitt and other experts expected older, sicker people to be more heavily represented in the early numbers. They would have had strong motivation to persevere in the face of website dysfunction.

Still, he said “it underscores a need to heighten outreach efforts to young people.” Adults ages 18-34 represent 40 percent of the target group for the health care law, according to a recent Kaiser study. Open enrollment ends March 31.

Considering that the federal health care website was down most of the time in October, administration officials said they were pleased that the percentage of young adults was as high as it was.

“We think that more and more young people are going to sign up as time goes by,” said Gary Cohen, head of the HHS office in charge of Obama’s push to cover the uninsured. And there’s a hammer, too: Those who fail to sign up face a tax penalty in 2015 for being uninsured.

With Monday’s numbers, a fuller picture has started to emerge of who’s signing up.

Some of the highlights:

  • The administration continues to play catch-up. Originally, officials hoped to sign up more than 3.3 million people through the end of 2013, nearly halfway to the goal of 7 million enrollments by the end of March. Instead, enrollment as of Dec. 31 was not quite 2.2 million.
  • Fifty-four percent of those who signed up were women, a slightly higher proportion of females than in the population.
  • Nearly four out of five who signed up got financial help with their premiums.
  • The most popular coverage option was a so-called silver plan, which covers about 70 percent of expected medical costs. Three out of five people picked silver. One in five picked a lower-cost bronze plan. Only 13 percent picked gold, which most closely compares to the typical employer plan. Another 7 percent went for top-tier platinum plans, and about 1 percent picked skimpy “catastrophic” plans available only to certain groups of people, including those under 30.
  • A few states accounted for a huge share of the enrollment. California alone had 23 percent of the signups. California, New York, Florida, Texas and North Carolina accounted for nearly half the total.

Officials remain confident they’ll be able to get young adults interested. Insurers, nonprofit groups, and advocates are moving ahead with marketing campaigns that were put on hold when the federal website that serves 36 states was struggling.

Administration officials said that in the coming weeks they plan to increase outreach to young people in 25 communities located in states served by the federal website. That effort includes a national youth enrollment day on Feb. 15 and targeted outreach by sororities and fraternities, as well as Voto Latino, which focuses on Hispanic youth.

In Miami, 19-year-old college student Stacy Sylvain was one of the last-minute online signups as 2013 drew to a close. In about an hour, the part-time waitress signed up for a plan with a $158 monthly premium, with the feds kicking in $48. She has a $2,500 deductible. Sylvain said she had no trouble navigating the website.

“Many people have a preconceived notion that young people are healthy and don’t need to go to the doctor,” said Sylvain, who suffered a minor injury when she fell and hit her head during an indoor soccer class in 2012. “Not having to worry about being uninsured and the what-ifs has made an incredible impact on my life.”

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 9 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Tax PayerJanuary 14, 2014 - 6:39 am

    The train wreck is coming. 2016 we will truly know how big this wreck is. But then then this idiot will be out of office and there will have been a bailout proposal with our tax dollars. Get ready to take a double hit middle class. Your rates will go up for both medical insurance as well as a tax increase for the bailout. California it is be even worse as by 2016 they probably will be giving the benefits to illegal aliens. Mark my words!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Tax PayerJanuary 14, 2014 - 6:42 am

    4 out of 5 get financial help as they sign up. Who are these folks? Not tax payers for sure.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • S KJanuary 14, 2014 - 7:29 am

    If I were back in my 20s, beginning a job with an employer that doesn't offer Medical benefits, I would rather have paid the relatively small fine, than hundreds per month out of my meager pay, for insurance, unless the subsidy made it nearly free.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mr. PracticalJanuary 14, 2014 - 12:45 pm

    The insurance expert from Kaiser Foundation is only partially correct regarding the adverse selection not starting the death spiral. The law provides an insurance carrier bailout in the first 3 years. In other words, taxpayers are reimbursing the carriers for their losses because of the young, profitable risks not enrolling. That provision expires in 2016 and the law banks on getting those young people enrolled by that time because of the individual mandate fine increasing in that year to $695. Unfortunately, the law also took away the catastrophic policies that were popular among the young people that wanted to protect themselves from financial ruin. They now have to pay for an expensive comprehensive policy that complies with the "essential benefits" mandate. In addition, the law also requires that carriers charge the oldest risk no more than 3 times what the youngest insureds pay. This has compressed rates so that those young folk, so critical to the exchanges working, are now subsidizing the seniors.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • rlw895January 14, 2014 - 5:53 pm

    So? Sounds about right to me if we're not going to have a single payer system. There has to be some cap on the age ration, and 3:1 seems like a good compromise. My guess is as the penalty increases, no one but the very rich will go bare. Why pay something for nothing?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • rlw895January 14, 2014 - 6:47 pm

    *age ratio

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • rlw895January 14, 2014 - 6:51 pm

    23% of the national total. Way to go Covered California!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mr. SmithJanuary 14, 2014 - 6:56 pm

    RLW: Not so fast! There are still 56 states to go.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Mr. PracticalJanuary 15, 2014 - 11:14 am

    rlw, the point is, if you really want the young profitable risks why would you include provisions that skyrocket rates for those same individuals? It's almost like those writing the law weren't talking to each other. It's overly optimistic to believe these young people will chose enrolling over paying something for nothing. Remember, the vast majority still don't realize that the fine increases above this year's $95. Folks are not going to be happy and extracting payment is going to be a huge challenge.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

 
 
 
Suisun police ID shooting victim

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3, 6 Comments

 
Solano Jews gather for start of Passover

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
 
County discusses consolidated dispatch

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4

 
Miner Slough Bridge to see repairs

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A4

 
‘Heaven is for Real’ opens Wednesday

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B5

 
Fiesta Days pageant organizers seek contestants

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A5

 
Easter hunt set for Mare Island

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A5

 
Crews make quick work of vehicle fire

By Glen Faison | From Page: A6, 6 Comments | Gallery

 
Paper Clover Campaign supports Solano County 4-H

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A6

Coakley joins Solano fair board

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A6

 
Hundreds flock to Krispy Kreme as it opens doors

By Susan Winlow | From Page: B9, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
County to honor Solano educators

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A14, 1 Comment

.

US / World

Officials: Huge San Francisco blaze was accidental

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
‘Shrimp Boy’ pleads not guilty in corruption case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

Solemn tributes mark Boston Marathon bombing

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Immigration activists urge Obama to act boldly

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11, 1 Comment

Supremacist faces murder charges in Kansas deaths

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Ukraine: Military secures airport from attack

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Democrats have outside money advantage – for now

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14, 3 Comments

 
First women move into Army platoon artillery jobs

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Final deadline arrives for health exchange sign-up

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14, 1 Comment

 
New LA newspaper embraces print in digital world

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Congress is giving states the transportation blues

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14, 2 Comments

 
Police: Suspects in killings wore GPS devices

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14, 1 Comment

DNA alternative to Pap smear sparks medical debate

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Robot sub returns to water after 1st try cut short

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

Hamas praises deadly West Bank shooting

By The Associated Press | From Page: A15

 
2 dead after ferry sinks off SKorean coast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A15

.

Opinion

 
Oh, for the days of Dr. Welby

By Dan K. Thomasson | From Page: A13, 13 Comments

Poor Judgement in Flight 370 column

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A13, 1 Comment

 
Senseless babble that hurts

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A13, 2 Comments

 
Expand Red Top Road

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A13, 2 Comments

Editorial cartoons for April 16, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A13

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: April 16, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
What love gives you

By Barton Goldsmith | From Page: A2

Today in History for April 16, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
A matzo ball soup fit for a weeknight dinner

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Saving carrots from their usual sugary Easter fate

By Sara Moulton | From Page: B6

 
Sweet pairings for grown-up Easter treats

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

My husband still pays his 45-year-old unemployed son’s bills

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B7

 
Horoscopes for April 16, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B7

.

Entertainment

Boston Globe wins Pulitzer for bombing coverage

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Lindsay Lohan’s mom pleads guilty to DWI in NY

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

Strahan’s ‘GMA’ side job confirmed with his visit

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

.

Sports

Cal hires Tennessee’s Cuonzo Martin as coach

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Warriors trying to move on without Andrew Bogut

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Sharks’ Torres uncertain for playoff opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Indians shut out Mustangs

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1, 1 Comment | Gallery

Ex-Minnesota State, Mankato coach returning to job

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Panthers jump Sabres to win NHL draft lottery

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

More former players sue NHL regarding concussions

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
49ers sign WR Brandon Lloyd to 1-year deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

MLB marks 67th anniversary of Jackie Robinson’s debut

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
.

Business

Twitter buys data analytics partner Gnip

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
Yellen signals more aggressive stance toward banks

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

.

Obituaries

Carolyn McClelland

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Evonne Medina

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

.

Comics

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7