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Study: Healthy enrollees more important than young to insurance costs

Feb. 12, 2014 at 5:02 PM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- A disproportionate number of people in poor health enrolling for insurance is more likely to drive up U.S. premium costs than too few young adults, experts say.

The Commonwealth Fund released a study, "Young Adult Participation in the Health Insurance Marketplaces: Just How Important Is It?", on Wednesday. The study suggested that heavy participation by young adults can help keep premiums down but is not the most important factor.

"There has been a lot of discussion about the importance of young adults in the marketplaces but no consensus on how many young adults are needed to achieve the right balance and what happens if those numbers aren't reached," said Sara Collins, Commonwealth Fund vice president for healthcare coverage and access and author of the report. "What these conversations and analyses by researchers illuminate is that the role of young adults has likely been over-emphasized. Their participation is important, but lower-than-expected enrollment this year won't trigger market failure."

The federal government has been running ads to encourage younger people to seek health insurance, emphasizing low cost for those with low incomes because of subsidies and the need to be covered in case of an accident or catastrophic illness.

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