off the charts

You are here

Time Running Out to Get Coverage on

December 13, 2017 at 12:00 PM

Friday is the last day to sign up for 2018 health coverage on — and that’s particularly important for young adults, especially those aged 26 to 34, to know. While this group’s uninsured rate fell from 23.7 percent in 2013 to 15.7 percent in 2016, younger adults are much likelier to be uninsured compared to those aged 45 to 64. Young people can find great deals in most areas of the country — if they know to enroll.

Despite premium increases, 8 in 10 people who buy health coverage through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces can enroll in a plan that costs less than $75 per month after accounting for the federal premium tax credits that help those who qualify pay their premiums. And 4.5 million people, including many young adults, can sign up for health plans at virtually no monthly cost. For example, a 25-year-old in Sangamon County, Illinois who will earn $25,000 in 2018 can choose between three health plans with a monthly premium of less than $5 after accounting for subsidies.

It’s unclear how many young people know they can find those good deals. About half of all uninsured adults were unaware of marketplace subsidies as of early 2016, and 2 in 5 were unaware even of the marketplaces’ existence this year. The Trump Administration slashed open enrollment outreach by 90 percent, likely reducing awareness of marketplace plans and subsidies even further. Between 20 and 37 percent of consumers who were new to the marketplace signed up due to outreach activities such as television and digital advertisements, the Department of Health and Human Services foundin 2015 and 2016.

Moreover, the Trump Administration halved the open enrollment period, which may lead fewer young people to sign up. Last year, almost 1 million new consumers (30 percent) signed up after late December. Many so-called “healthy procrastinators,” including many young people, have signed up in January in past open enrollment periods.

With only two days left in open enrollment, community groups should make an extra effort to reach young people so they know about their chance to enroll.