Maryland ranked fifth in the nation for young adult enrollments (18-34), according to data from the 2017 open enrollment released this week by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
In Maryland, 30.2 percent of all enrollments were by people aged 18-34, compared with a national average of 26.9 percent for that age group. Only the District of Columbia (41.4 percent), Utah (31.5 percent), Massachusetts (32.3 percent) and Alabama (30.6 percent) exceeded that share. Maryland’s percentage was the same as a year ago, but climbed in the rankings from tied for ninth to fifth.
More young people enrolling is very important for two reasons:
First, young adults were a population less insured than the general population prior to 2010. According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), young adults have the highest rate of uninsured of any age group. About 30 percent of young adults are uninsured -- higher than any other age group. Cost was a factor, as young people starting out generally have smaller incomes. And being more fit in general led many “young invincibles” to forgo coverage and ignore risk even though one in six young adults has a chronic illness like cancer, diabetes or asthma, according to CMS.
But illness, car accidents and other unpredictable bad things don’t discriminate by age. Having coverage against unforeseen medical problems can prevent financial calamity -- or worse. For example, a study by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) last fall concluded that 79 percent of early-stage cervical cancer cases were detected in women ages 21 to 25 since 2010, compared to 71 percent prior to that, thanks to screenings that are now covered by the health care law.
Second, young people in the insurance “pool” lower costs for everyone. That’s how insurance works. (Young people improve the “risk mix” of health insurance; older, more experienced drivers improve the risk mix of auto insurance.)
Maryland Health Connection had a lot of partners helping to attract young people during the open enrollment this winter, including two dozen colleges across the state; sororities such as Zeta Phi Beta, Iota Lamda Omega, Sigma Gamma Rho, Alpha Kappa Alpha and Delta Sigma Theta, and even the young-at-heart AARP helped promote a “Youth Enrollment Day” last November.
We reached hundreds of thousands of people through social media and digital advertising. Our new mobile app was also popular with young adults. It will soon reach 100,000 downloads in its first six months. It is being used actively by both Medicaid and private plan customers, with about two-thirds of usage from the Medicaid population.
If you’re young (or just wish you were), you can still get enrolled if you qualify for Medicaid or have had a major life event like recently moving to Maryland, leaving a job that provided health coverage, or some other reason. Visit MarylandHealthConnection.gov to learn more.
About Maryland Health Connection
Maryland Health Connection is Maryland’s official health insurance marketplace for individuals and families to compare plans and enroll in health and dental coverage. It’s the only place to get financial help with health insurance. See if you qualify for financial help like tax credits or Medicaid/MCHP to make health insurance more affordable.