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.
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.
Still, he said, "it underscores a need to heighten outreach efforts to young people."
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.
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"We think that more and more young people are going to sign up as time goes by," said Gary Cohen, head of the Health and Human Services Department's office in charge of Obama's push to cover the 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.