Insurers say the early buyers of health coverage on the nation’s troubled new websites are older than expected so far, raising early concerns about the economics of the insurance marketplaces.
If the trend continues, an older, more expensive set of customers could drive up prices for everyone, the insurers say, by forcing them to spread their costs around. “We need a broad range of people to make this work, and we’re not seeing that right now,” said Heather Thiltgen of Medical Mutual of Ohio, the state’s largest insurer by individual customers. “We’re seeing the population skewing older.”
The early numbers, described to The Wall Street Journal by insurance executives, agents, state officials and actuaries, are still small—partly a consequence of the continuing technical problems plaguing the federally run exchanges, experts say.
Huh. So it turns out that older, sicker people who really need coverage are more willing to suffer through Healthcare.gov’s “glitches” than younger people who don’t really need it, and don’t necessarily have the money to afford it.
But I’m sure those young people will come flocking to the websites, assuming they ever work, once all those older, sicker people have driven insurance prices even higher.
The hope is that younger people will sign up at the last minute — currently the end of March, but who knows — like they did when Massachusetts enacted similar legislation. But Massachusetts is a far more liberal state than, say, South Carolina, where the younger people might not be so willing to part with their money in order to support a highly unpopular Democrat program. I also don’t recall the Massachusetts allowing “children” to stay on their parents’ plan until they’re 26, which alone will keep many off the exchanges.
So we’ll see.