Obamacare draws younger consumers online as deadline nears, report says

EHealth call-center employees answer the phones in October in Sacramento. The company released new data Wednesday showing average premiums paid for Obamacare coverage.
(Ken James/Bloomberg)

The average premium paid for Obamacare coverage on a leading insurance website has dropped by nearly $100 a month since October as more young people sign up, a new industry report shows.

The average age of people buying coverage at online broker dropped from 44 mid-October to 36 in late February, according to the company.

The average premium for 2014 health plans sold through EHealth tumbled from $370 a month to $273 over that period, which the company said reflects a higher proportion of younger applicants.

Full coverage: Obamacare takes effect
Attracting enough younger and healthier customers is crucial to help offset the higher medical costs of older, sicker policyholders in the overall insurance pool.


EHealth said last week when it announced fourth-quarter results that 40% of its applicants in the fall were between the ages 18 to 34.

The Mountain View, Calif.,-based company said its new price and age data released Wednesday is drawn from a moving 14-day average of its submitted applications.

Consumers using EHealth, and other Web brokers can purchase the same Affordable Care Act policies available in federal and state exchanges, but only the government sites can issue premium subsidies.

The study issued Wednesday by EHealth also shows the sharp increase in rates many Americans have encountered after the overhaul required more comprehensive benefits and guaranteed coverage for all applicants. While rates are up, annual deductibles went down on average.

Many consumers are eligible for federal premium subsidies based on their income, shielding them from the full cost.

Nationally, the average price for 2013 individual plans sold on EHealth in the fourth quarter was $171 per month -- absent the healthcare law requirements. Policies for 2014 that were sold during that same period were $309 per month.

EHealth said those numbers are based on more than 169,000 applications it received in the fourth quarter.

The rates in California were slightly above the national average.


The average California premium for individual plans sold through EHealth last fall was $193 a month. New 2014 policies cost $331 a month, on average.

But the average deductible in California was $86 lower on 2014 plans at $3,396 annually.

Nationwide, Minnesota had the lowest average premium for Obamacare individual plans, at $220 a month, and Oklahoma had the cheapest family plans at $500 per month.

The highest 2014 rates were in Alaska for individuals ($496 a month) and in New Jersey for family plans ($1,004 per month).


New family plans in California were $835 per month, on average, EHealth data show. That doesn’t include any subsidies.

The Obama administration announced Tuesday that 4 million Americans have enrolled in health plans on the federal website and through state exchanges.


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