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Report: Young adults among health care enrollees

May 1, 2014

BOSTON (AP) — About 29 percent of those who successfully enrolled in health care plans through Massachusetts’ troubled website were young adults aged 18 to 34, whose premiums are needed to balance the cost of older, sicker enrollees, according to a report released Thursday by the Obama administration.

Just 31,695 Massachusetts residents were able to enroll in new plans that meet the requirements of the federal law due to failures in the state’s website — far short of the goal of 250,000, said the report on the first year of the marketplaces created under the president’s landmark health care law.

State health officials said despite the troubles they were able to help more than 200,000 additional residents by placing them into a transitional coverage program or moving them into MassHealth through an expansion of Medicaid.

The federal report said without the website obstacles, those enrolled in a qualified health plan through the Massachusetts Health Connector could have topped 300,000.

Independent analysts have said about 40 percent of the enrollees should be young adults. But the administration called the mix sufficient to keep premiums stable.

Nationally, young adults made up about 28 percent of the total 8 million who chose a health plan through the new insurance markets.

Connector officials in Massachusetts said they look forward to having “a new system in place for the next open enrollment period that will make it easier for people to access these benefits.”

The next enrollment period for private health insurance coverage for 2015 under the health law is scheduled to run Nov. 15 through Feb. 15.

The release of Thursday’s report comes a day after connector officials traveled to Washington for what they described as their “latest in a series of conversations” with federal health care regulators.

Massachusetts officials said the meeting focused the state’s options “to rebuild our existing system, or use parts or all of a state exchange or the federal exchange going forward.”

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