Obamacare's next potential problem? Young people not signing up



President Barack Obama's signature health care law is under fire from Congress and the general public for its glitchy website and dropped plans.

Now, it is facing another potentially crippling issue: Young people not signing up for health insurance exchanges.

Under the Affordable Care Act, health exchanges have been set up in each state with the idea that those without health insurance through their employers or the government could buy the insurance they need at an affordable cost. The law is designed to bring young, healthy people into the same risk pool as older, less healthy people, thus spreading costs out and guaranteeing good coverage across the board.

Thanks in large part to the glitches that have crippled the exchange website, only 106,000 people signed up for health insurance through the new exchanges in their first month, well short of the 500,000 the Obama administration was expecting and the millions it eventually expects to sign up.

Even more troubling is that in many states, people under 35 constituted less than 25 percent of those who signed up, according to the Associated Press. If that trend holds through Dec. 15, the last day Americans can sign up for insurance to receive it by Jan. 1, premiums and deductibles could skyrocket because the young, relatively healthy insurance recipients would not be there to offset the risk that comes with insuring sicker, older Americans.

The Obama administration has pointed to the similar Massachusetts health reform law signed by Mitt Romney as a reason for patience. In its first month of enrollment, just 123 people signed up, but that number, especially among young people, rose significantly as the deadline approached.


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