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Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

Some Young People May Not Get Obamacare Help


Surprising Reaction From Insurers

In Philadelphia, the region’s largest insurer doesn’t seem too worried.

"We’re looking to get as many people as insured as possible, [to] make sure they’re aware the deadline is coming," says Koleen Cavanaugh, a director of marketing for Independence Blue Cross, one of two companies offering plans on Philadelphia’s exchange. She says more than 90,000 people in the region, across all ages, have joined plans since open enrollment started.

"Back in January if we looked at the numbers, we had about 21 percent enrollment in the millennial population, we’re now around 31 percent, so we’ve seen a nice uptick in February and March enrollment numbers," Cavanaugh says, as she works in a tent near City Hall where agents are helping people sign up.

According to Cavanaugh, the majority of those young adults have been eligible for subsidies. An earlier government study found that about half of young adults nationwide are eligible for a basic plan that costs $50 a month or less. But that does not include Brian Loughnane, who was aging out of his parent’s plan. He works for a tech startup that doesn’t offer insurance. "I was a completely new entrant into the marketplace so I didn’t really have an idea of what I would be paying," he says.

Loughnane found a mid-level silver plan at full cost for $205 a month. Analysts like Coleman, with HealthPocket, worry that might be too much for young people and keep them from signing up for coverage. For Loughnane, it’s worth it even though he’s healthy. He wants coverage, in part because he saw how important insurance was for his girlfriend.

"She had cancer and she beat it,” Loughnane says. “That’s a situation where without health insurance, you’re going to get into debt for the rest of your life."

The $200 a month plan was easy sell: “That’s less than half of what I pay each month for groceries, I have other expenses too, but for my health I’m absolutely willing to pay that."

Tue, Mar 18 2014

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