Attention Turns To Rate Of Health Care Signups By Young Wisconsinites

Rates Will Depend On Age, Health Makeup Of Insurance Pools

doctor hands stethoscope
Alex Proimos (CC-BY-NC)

A group that supports health reform is warning that if more young people don’t sign up, insurance rates in Wisconsin could increase. Another group that represents young people, however, isn’t worried yet.

Of the more than 40,000 people who have signed up for health care through the federal exchange in Wisconsin, 45 percent are 55 years or older. The percentage of older people signing up nationally is only 33 percent.

Robert Kraig, executive director for Citizen Action of Wisconsin, said there’s cause for concern.

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“This is very alarming, because Wisconsin is tied for worst in the country in terms of the number of older people signing up for the new marketplace,” Kraig said. “And so the problem with that is that it will raise rates next year if it doesn’t change in the next couple months of enrollment.”

Insurance companies need healthy people to offset the medical costs of those who are sick. Usually older people have more medical problems.

Christina Postolowski, a senior policy analyst with the national group Young Invincibles, said Wisconsin may have fewer young people signing up, but that doesn’t mean they’re going without coverage.

“One thing that is good in Wisconsin is the young adult uninsured rate is actually lower than it is nationwide,” Postolowski said. “It’s 21 percent for 18 to 34 year olds.”

Postolowski said young people are shopping for insurance. She isn’t fazed by a Harvard Institute of Politics poll which indicated 40 percent weren’t sure they would actually buy coverage.

“Young people can procrastinate: As one, I can speak to that,” she said.

She notes many people, especially young adults, waited until the deadline to sign up for coverage through the Massachusetts exchange, which had a law similar to the Affordable Care Act.