Exchanges drew sicker consumersNews added by Benefits Pro on June 24, 2014

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By Dan Cook

As carriers begin to file health coverage rate proposals for state exchange plans, a new Gallup survey confirms what many already feared: less healthy individuals lead the rush to buy coverage.

That’s one of several trends Gallup spotted after interviewing more than 31,000 adults. Surveyors asked whether people got their insurance through an exchange and whether they considered themselves fairly healthy or not, among other questions.

Of those who responded, 5 percent said they got new health insurance in 2014. Slightly more than half of those—2.8 percent—reported they got coverage through an exchange.

But this survey indicates the quest to convince healthy people to sign up for exchange coverage fell short.

“One catalyst for the individual health care mandate was to bring healthy people who otherwise chose not to have health insurance into the health care system using the exchanges,” Gallup reported. “However, the newly insured using exchanges in the April-June reporting period are less likely than those in the general population to report being in ‘very good’ or ‘excellent’ health. Thirty-eight percent of those using an exchange for their new policies reported being in very good or excellent health, compared with 50 percent of the general population.”

The age distribution of those obtaining health coverage suggested the push to get young people to buy insurance is working to some degree. Results confirmed earlier reported trends: Most were under the age of 65; young people tended to say they had new coverage in greater numbers (29 percent) than their representation in the general population (21 percent); and the next two age categories (30-49/50-64) also showed a higher percent obtaining coverage than their general population representation.

Gallup said the poll was generally favorable to the aims of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, but noted there was still plenty of room for improving the sad state of health coverage.

“The 5 percent of the adult population who report getting health insurance this year and who did not have it last year is roughly commensurate with the overall drop in the uninsured percentage of the overall population between the third quarter of 2013 and April-May of this year. Still, … millions of Americans still are without health insurance: the total percentage of the adult population who are uninsured remains above 13 percent.”

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