Nearly Two Million Americans Signed Up for ACA Coverage

Nearly one in four are young adults, a demographic key to the program's success.
Nearly one in four are young adults, a demographic key to the program's success.

Nearly 2.2 million Americans had selected health plans through the federal and state marketplaces as of late December, and nearly one in four was a young adult, the Obama administration disclosed Monday.

"The numbers show that there is a very strong national demand for affordable health care made possible by the Affordable Care Act," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said during a news conference Monday afternoon. "More than six million Americans have now either signed up for private health insurance plans or for Medicaid coverage through the marketplace," she said.

Twenty-four percent of people who chose a plan were in the key 18-to-34-year-old demographic. Attracting enough young adults to the mix should keep health insurance rates more affordable, experts say. Young people tend to be healthier, helping to offset the risk of covering older, sicker adults. "For the 18-34 age band, we would want at least 32 percent of the adult sign-ups [people ages 18 to 64] to be in that category," David Axene, president and consulting actuary at Axene Health Partners, of Murrieta, Calif. told HealthDay. "Materially less than that leads to subsidy concerns," he added.

Sebelius highlighted a rosier statistic during Monday's news conference, noting that 30 percent of enrollees were under age 35. But that figure includes people 17 and younger who are not yet considered adults.

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