- CMS announced Monday multiple initiatives it is launching to reach out to young adults during the upcoming ACA open enrollment period.
- The administration suggested there is a need for education, highlighting that more than 9 in 10 uninsured, marketplace-eligible young adults, could qualify for tax credits to help pay for their coverage, and concludes "that fact hasn’t fully penetrated the millennial community."
- CMS said its new strategies, tools, and partnerships would help to both reach young people and help them find affordable coverage.
The relatively low enrollment of young adults has been a major thorn in the side of the ACA, as the lack of younger--and therefore typically healthier--enrollees has made for an overwhelmingly sick risk pool. That issue has been highly blamed by insurers for higher than expected medical spending, driving financial losses among many participating ACA insurers, and their resulting departures from the marketplaces and/or large premium hikes.
CMS clearly has that issue in mind. "These new tactics will both benefit young Americans and strengthen the Marketplace risk pool," it said. The agency has previously stated its aim to enroll more young adults, as data from the CDC's National Health Interview Survey has shown younger adults to have higher rates of uninsurance, with those age 18–24 at 13.7%, and those 25–34 at 15.9%, compared to those aged 45–64 at 8.1%.
The new outreach strategies will include the use of online platforms such as Twitch, a social video platform and community for gamers, CMS said. The agency also touted an improved mobile experience, making it possible not only to enroll on a phone or tablet, but to easily comparison shop.
In addition, CMS announced a coordinated social media campaign under the name #HealthyAdulting, with partners including Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, which it projects will reach almost five million social media followers.
As previously announced, the IRS will also reach out to uninsured people who have paid the penalty for the individual mandate or claimed an exemption.
The matter of the individual mandate could soon prove pivotal in whether young people--or anyone--will feel incentivized or pressed into choosing to enroll in coverage. While it was intended to sway more and more holdouts through an increasing annual penalty, this provision of the health law is coming under legislative attack due to the lack of choice faced by a growing number of marketplace consumers, who may find themselves forced to decide between paying the penalty or purchasing a plan from one insurance "choice" with a regional monopoly.