Number of people enrolling in exchanges increases
Over half of the 2.2 million people that have purchased health insurance coverage from federal and state-run exchanges are over the age of 45, according to data released by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). According to the agency, some 1.2 million people enrolled for private insurance coverage through an exchange between October 1 and December 28 of 2013. That number has grown in January, suggesting that health care reform may be accomplishing its goal of making insurance coverage more accessible to a wider range of consumers.
HHS notes that older people make up the majority of enrollments
According to the HHS, approximately 55% of early exchange enrollees are between the ages of 45 and 64. This trend was not unexpected, as federal officials and insurance providers had expected that older people would take advantage of the options provided to them through the health care reform law. Insurers had expressed concerns regarding the market being saturated with older consumers that have expensive and chronic medical issues, suggesting that younger consumers had little to no incentive to purchase and maintain health insurance coverage.
Young consumers being encouraged to enroll in exchanges
The HHS notes that 26% of exchange enrollees are below the age of 35. Many younger consumers have opted to stay covered under the insurance plans of their parents. According to the health care reform law, these people may do so until the age of 26. Even so, younger consumers are being encouraged to purchase their own insurance coverage, especially through exchanges. The HHS continues to promote the benefits of exchanges and aims to further increase the availability of information concerning insurance coverage.
Cost of medical care continues to rise
If enrollment of young consumers in state and federal exchanges falls short, health insurance costs are expected to rise. While exchanges exist to provide affordable access to insurance coverage, insurers are being battered by rapidly rising medical costs. Hospitals are beginning to charge more for the care they provide as medical technology and methodology advances at a rapid pace. In order to mitigate financial loss and exposure to risk, insurers must increase their rates to compensate for the financial impact of a market filled with older consumers.