Health insurance is “very important” to young US adults, poll finds

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 25 June 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f4082
  1. Michael McCarthy
  1. 1Seattle

Seven in 10 US adults aged 18-30 think that having health insurance is “very important” to them, a new poll shows.1

The findings should cheer the Obama administration, which is depending on the enrollment of healthy young adults to keep premiums of plans offered by the new insurance exchanges low.

The exchanges, a key provision of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, create online marketplaces where individuals and small businesses can shop for plans and obtain subsidies for purchasing coverage according to their income.

Exchange planners, however, have been worried that young Americans would stay away, leaving an insurance pool of older, sicker enrolled people, whose costs would drive up premiums.

In the poll of adults conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, three quarters of the respondents in the youngest age groups (76% of those aged 18 to 25 and 74% of those aged 26 to 30) said that insurance was “something I need,” and 76% of the younger group and 65% of the older group said that insurance was “worth the money it costs.”

Only a quarter of 18-30 year olds said that they believed they were healthy enough that they didn’t need insurance.

Of all the adults surveyed, 88% said that insurance was “something I need” and 68% said it was “worth the money it costs.”

But the poll also found that three years after its passage more people viewed the health reform law unfavorably than favorably, 43% to 35%. A quarter (23%) said that they did not know or refused to comment.

A third (33%) said that they had an unfavorable view of the law because it went too far and 8% because it didn’t go far enough.

How health reform was “branded” had an effect on individuals’ views, depending on their party allegiance. When the scheme was called “Obamacare” instead of the health reform law, the proportion of Democrats with a favorable views jumped from 58% to 73%, while among Republicans favorable views were little changed but unfavorable views rose from 76% to 86%.

Among all those polled, the name “Obamacare” drove down those offering no opinion from 23% to 11% and drove up the proportion with a favorable view seven percentage points to 42% and the proportion with an unfavorable view up four points to 47%.


Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f4082