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Seeberger: We feel very confident that enrollment rates will continue to increase


By: Ayobami Olugbemiga

The Obama administration on Monday released the first demographic data on those who have signed up for the Affordable Care Act in the state and federal exchanges.

According to the report by the Department of Health and Human Services, nearly 2.2 million Americans enrolled in health insurance plans from the state and federal marketplaces. “Americans are finding quality affordable coverage in the Marketplace, and best of all, because coverage began on New Year’s Day, the promise and hope of the Affordable Care Act is now a reality,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said. “Our outreach efforts have ramped up, so whether it’s through public service announcements, events, our champions or other means, we are doing all we can to find, inform and enroll those who can benefit from the Marketplace.”

The magic enrollment number set by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is 7 million by the end of March. “I think success looks like at least 7 million people having signed up by the end of March 2014,” Sebelius told NBC’s Nancy Snyderman in November. But the White House hopes 2.7 million of the projected 7 million will be between the ages of 18-35.

The HHS report shows that out of the 2.2 million who enrolled from the state and federal marketplaces as of December 28, only 24 percent were between the ages of 18 and 34. This age demographic is important to long-term fiscal sustainability of the healthcare law. For Obamacare to be successful, the White House needs the so called  “young invincibles” to enroll in large numbers for the state and federal exchanges. If the young and healthy do not sign up to subsidize the old and sick, overburdened insurance companies with ailing customers will be forced raise premiums. That is the reason why the Obama administration has been making a strong push in recent months to persuade young Millennials to enroll in Obamacare.

In December, for example, President Obama hosted a White House Youth Summit, urging young adults to enroll in the exchanges. “I do remember what it is like being 27 or 28,”Obama said at the summit.  “Aside from the occasional basketball injury, most of the time I kind of felt like I had nothing to worry about. Of course that’s what most people think until they have something to worry about. But at that point, often times, it’s too late.”

InTheCapital reached out to Young Invincibles – a national organization that seeks to mobilize young adults on issues like higher education and healthcare – to discuss the newly released demographic numbers, including the 22 percent youth enrollment. “We feel very confident that enrollment rates will continue to increase as the tax penalty deadline on April 1 approaches for the uninsured,” said Colin Seeberger, National Communications Coordinator at Young Invincibles. “We know youth enrollment rates have already begun to surge and we expect that trend to continue in the months to come.”

Seeberger also referenced the recent survey by the Commonwealth Fund, which found that 41 percent of federal and state health insurance marketplace visitors were between the ages of 19 and 34. When asked if he believes the Obama administration can meet the 2.7 million enrollment goal for young adults by March, Seeberger said “it’s hard to evaluate where we are in terms of the larger metrics since we don’t know the long term impact of the website glitches.”

He added: “But what we do know is that the non-chronically ill population’s enrollment rate increased over 175 percent before Massachusetts’ mandate kicked in. We anticipate seeing a similar pattern nationally in the months ahead.”