Obamacare could require far too much expense and provide too few benefits for the percentage of healthy young-adult enrollees to rise, according to a new analysis.
Consumer price comparison site NerdWallet said its analysis suggests that healthy younger adults who go without insurance could on average spend up to five times less on health care than those who sign up in Affordable Care Act plans.
The site predicts that, despite a legal mandate to obtain coverage, many young adults will remain uninsured in 2014 because it is cheaper for them to pay their medical bills than to buy insurance. That's true, the company said, even if they are eligible for tax credits to offset the cost of coverage.
"It isn't just a 'young and reckless; mentality keeping so-called young invincibles from signing up," NerdWallet said. "Many young adults will follow a logical financial rationale for remaining uninsured in 2014."
That view conflicts with claims by federal officials, who this week said they expect a significant jump in the percentage of young adults buying plans by the March 31 deadline for open enrollment.
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As of Dec. 28, just 24 percent of the 2.2 million enrollees were adults between 18 and 34, versus the 40 percent target officials are eyeing. They want more young adults in the risk pool to balance insurers' costs from older, sicker participants.
"Our analysis suggests that health insurance—even with subsidies' discounts—will be a tough sell to the healthy majority of young adults who would otherwise have very few health expenses," said Christina LaMontagne, health vice president at NerdWallet, which launched a health insurance buyer's guide this week.
"Many young, healthy adults will skip insurance in 2014, as their expected health needs won't justify insurance," she said.