Young people say yes to fine, no to Affordable Care Act

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The deadline to get started enrolling for Affordable Care Act is Monday. Still, publicly-run health insurance exchanges lag far behind the numbers of young enrollees the government wanted.

The White House extended the deadline to mid-April to sign up on the ACA website, hoping to get more young people to sign up.

If people have already started the process, they can now ask for an extension.

Once the new deadline arrives, the ACA system needs healthy, young people to help balance out those with health problems. But as of now, they only make up about 27 percent of all enrollees; the government wants 40 percent.

A new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found half of those uninsured don't plan to sign up. Why?  Young people may know that in general, they will pay more than they used to.

"Their premiums are higher under this new ACA law than they were previously. There are fewer options and the rates are higher," Justin Fallein a VP at Canopy Insurance said, a brokerage that helps individuals navigate the ACA website.

Plus, young "invincibles" either see no need for health insurance coverage or think the $95 fine or the government taking 1 percent of their annual income is cheaper than what they'll have to pay in monthly premiums.

"I'm not going to get sick so why do I need insurance? I'll take the fine," a 31-year-old Penn Valley Community College student said.
             
Insurers worry the government's plan could wobble and even collapse if too few young people sign up. Older, sicker people would exceed the premiums paid by all.

"You've got to have enough people paying in to pay the claims that go out, and if those two things are out of balance you've got to try to get them back in balance," Blue Cross Blue Shield Vice President Wayne Powell said.

That, BCBS said, could ultimately raise premiums for everyone with health coverage.
        
The recent push to get young people to sign up has increased the numbers of young enrollees in the last couple of days.

Tamera Bell is one of them. The hair stylist said her 5-year-old daughter was reason enough for her to sign up. She qualified for a subsidy.

Smiling, Bell said she'll only be paying,"$7 a month for real health insurance!"

Bell said that should be enough incentive for her young friends to give the new health care system a try.

For a list of groups that will help you navigate through the ACA website log onto coverkc.org.

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