Younger adults expect premiums to rise under reform

Nearly two-thirds of younger Americans expect their health insurance premiums to rise because of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, according to a new survey.

The majority (64 percent) of the 801 Americans age 18-41 surveyed by the American Action Forum think their premiums will increase, while only 9 percent believe their premiums will fall and 17 percent think their costs will stay the same.

Respondents who have health coverage through their parent’s health plan and said they would stay on their parent’s health plan in 2014 were excluded from the conservative policy institute's survey.

Still, young adults seemed willing to pay higher premiums — at least if the increases were small enough. Fewer were willing to continue to buy insurance as potential premium hikes got larger.

The survey found that 83 percent would still buy coverage if their premiums spiked by 10 percent; 65 percent would still buy in with a 20 percent increase; and 55 percent would buy insurance with a 30 percent spike in monthly premiums.

The forum’s researchers said those findings were “troubling” for the health reform law’s success because “premium rate shock for young adults is likely, if not certain, and will, for many young adults, be north of 30 percent.”

The group cited their previous survey of large insurers, which found that the average premium increase in five major cities to be 169 percent for a young, healthy male.

In January, actuaries at consulting firm Oliver Wyman warned the law’s age-rating provision could mean a 42 percent hike in premium costs for people aged 21 to 29 when they buy individual coverage.

Supporters of the law say the age-rating restrictions are necessary to ensure seniors are fairly charged for coverage, but others argue the requirement will raise costs for young adults and lead them to forgo health insurance, which will negatively impact the entire market.

In the new survey, adults 40 and younger tended to believe the argument that the cost of insurance will increase for them because they’re generally healthier individuals with lower utilization rates.

“This data strongly suggests that should premiums increase by as much as 20 percent to 30 percent, many of these respondents could respond by dropping out of coverage and paying the penalty or waiting until they are sick to purchase health coverage,” the survey report read.

Overall, 55 percent of respondents felt they’d be helped little or not at all by PPACA compared to 33 percent who said they’d be helped some or a lot by the law.

Just 19 percent said they believe the health care law should be implemented in its current form, with most saying PPACA should be put on hold “so that policy experts can review the cost implications of the law and reassess whether it is affordable for all Americans.”

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