Will Young Invincibles Go For The Bronze?

Obamacare’s health insurance exchanges offer four “metallic” levels of health plans: bronze, silver, gold, and platinum.  Bronze plans cover 60% of benefits, meaning consumers will be responsible for higher out-of-pocket expenses such as co-pays, co-insurance, and deductibles.  Meanwhile, platinum plans come with the most expensive premiums but cover 90% of benefits.

Along with the metallic coverage levels, catastrophic plans still exist despite Obamacare’s bloated health plan obsession.  Catastrophic plans, however, are for the most part only available to consumers under age 30.  Subsidies are not offered to eligible individuals wishing to purchase these these bare-bones plans, nor does the Obama Administration really discuss this option. Keeping mum avoids a potential disruption of the exchange’s necessary balanced risk-pool among subsidized metallic plans.  A recent Politico article explains:

The catastrophic plans are treated as an insurance risk pool that’s separate from the rest of the new Obamacare marketplace, according to Massachusetts Institute of Technology health economist Jon Gruber.

The administration wants as many people as possible to sign up in that marketplace – especially young, healthy ones – so pushing too many toward the catastrophic option undercuts that goal.  

For the exchanges to remain financially afloat, a significant chunk of their consumers need to be young and healthy individuals ages 18-34.  The White House projects that, of its anticipated 7 million exchange consumers by March 2014, 40% must be young invincibles.  This population will most likely be drawn to the most inexpensive plans – either catastrophic or bronze.  It sure would help out the administration if they ditched the catastrophic plans.  Will they go for the bronze?

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