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Young adults and health insurance

Not invincible – but perhaps convincible

As the first open enrollment period drew to a close, Deloitte surveyed young adults – both those who did and did not enroll in coverage – for their views about health insurance.

Findings from the Deloitte 2014 Survey of Young Adults and Health Insurance

​When state and federal health insurance exchanges rolled out, health plans and policymakers held their breath to see whether young people would sign up. Their participation could be key to balancing the older, sicker population whose expensive medical needs stood to burden new risk pools. In the end, 28 percent of ACA enrollees were from the critical 18-to-34-year-old cohort.

It's popular to categorize this demographic as healthy, risk-taking young "invincibles," but a Deloitte survey of 500 young adults (age 19-34) from April 2014 tells a different story:

  • Among the young adults who didn't sign up for coverage, fewer than one in five said it was because they don't expect to need insurance. But two-thirds said they just couldn't afford it. More than half never even visited a state or federal exchange site.
  • Those who did get insurance said the most important reasons were to pay medical bills, to secure peace of mind — and to avoid paying the federal penalty.
  •  Half of those who signed up said Medicaid or subsidies were an important part of that decision — but more than half of all respondents (those who signed up and those who did not) remain unaware that the federal government can help them pay for insurance, or that they can stay on their parents' policies until age 26.

How can health plans and government agencies entice young people to enroll? According to Deloitte's 2014 survey of young adults and health insurance, the answer may lie in information, affordability and value.

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Infographic: A Tall Order to Fill: Enrolling Young Adults in Health Insurance

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Before young adults will choose coverage under the ACA, young adults seek information, affordability, and value.

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Survey methodology

An online survey of 500 randomly selected young adults age 19-34 years, conducted between April 9, 2014 - April 23, 2014. Respondents were those who were uninsured as of September 30, 2013 and either remained uninsured or had subsequently become insured through various avenues. The questionnaire probed awareness of insurance related provisions of the Affordable Care Act and attitudes and behaviors with respect to health insurance including decision-making, trusted sources of information, influencers and future preferences. Systematic controls were used for age, gender, race and ethnicity, health insurance status, household income and geographic location. Data were weighted to be representative of non-institutionalized U.S. adults age 19-34 years and to correct for bias from using quotas for the insurance groups and for differences between an online panel and the general population.

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Sarah Thomas

Sarah Thomas

Director of Research | Center for Health Solutions

As director of research for the Center for Health ...More

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