Data emerges on Obamacare customer youth, payment status

After speculation on whether young people signed up for Obamacare—and whether they paid their premiums—answers emerge.

Life & Health


Data on the characteristics and payment status of those who signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act is starting to strike some positive notes. After initial worries that new enrollees were, on average, much older and sicker than the rest of the population, new evidence suggests that many young people now have Obamacare plans and have paid their initial premiums.

According to data disclosed by several large insurers this week, as many as 80% of new enrollees are paying the premiums required for coverage to take effect. Even that number may be skewed down, considering the many “duplicate enrollments” insurers received due to problems on the website.

“As of the third week of April, Aetna had over 600,000 members who had enrolled and roughly 500,000 members who had paid,” Paul Wingle, executive director of exchange operations and strategy at Aetna, said during a House committee hearing. “For those who had reached their payment due date, the payment rate, though dynamic, has been in the low- to mid-80% range.”

The data contrasts sharply with recent Republican assertions that only two-thirds of people signing up for private health insurance through had paid their premiums as of April 15.

Similarly encouraging is the attitude of insurers toward the relative youth of their new customers. While data suggests that only 28% of the eight million new enrollees are between 18- and 34-years-old, carriers seem to be largely unfazed.

“What we’re seeing on the exchange and what’s been reported was not too far off of what we were anticipating,” said Fred Earley, president of Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of West Virginia.

Interestingly, the number of young people signing up for health insurance through federal and state exchanges varies with geography. In states like Earley’s West Virginia, fewer than 20% of new enrollees are under 35.

Others have fared better. In Washington, a full 45% of new enrollees fell into the coveted “young invincible” category. Large states, like California and New York, also recruited at least 28% of young, uninsured residents.

The overall percentage of young people is comfortably below the 25% margin identified by Kaiser as likely to to “push premiums up a couple of points.”

“Well below the level that would trigger a ‘death spiral,’” Kaiser said in December.

You may also enjoy: "ACA projections on age and insured status of enrollees under fire"
"Answers trickle in on ACA enrollee health status"
"Major insurers to expand Obamacare offerings in 2015"

Keep up with the latest news and events

Join our mailing list, it’s free!