Virtually all Americans will be required to have health insurance under the Affordable Care Act starting in 2014, and President Barack Obama especially wants young, healthy people to sign up.
About two-thirds of the uninsured are younger than 40. They use fewer health services, and their premiums are needed to help keep insurance costs down for everyone else.
Yet the incentive structures in the law work at cross-purposes with this goal and could well undermine its success. It will all come down to costs.
Four out of 5 people younger than 30 will face higher premiums than without the Affordable Care Act even with the subsidies many can receive.
The law requires young people to pay more for their health coverage so older people can pay less. A study published this year by the American Academy of Actuaries’ Contingencies magazine found that because of this provision, “premiums for younger, healthier individuals could increase by more than 40 percent.” Young men will pay even more than young women.