Older enrollees could lead to higher premiums, study says

Health premiums in four states may spike this fall because of large numbers of older adults who signed up for Obamacare, according to a study from the conservative American Action Forum. 

The study released Friday found that older adults in Arkansas, Oregon, New Mexico and West Virginia signed up at much higher rates than young people in the health care law’s insurance exchanges.

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People over the age of 45 accounted for over 50 percent of enrollees despite making up only 30 percent of the population in those states.

“In this context, age is an imperfect estimation of the health status of the enrolled and eligible population, implying that the exchange enrollees may be older and less healthy then the eligible adults,” said the report.

“And if insurance companies offering plans in the exchange are surprised by an unhealthier than anticipated insured population, premiums will rise to compensate,” the report added.

Republicans are also targeting Senate races in Arkansas and West Virginia. If premiums rise in those states, it could bolster GOP claims that ObamaCare is leading to higher consumer healthcare costs.

The AAF report however, contrasts with another recent report from Avalere Health. That report found that premiums could see double-digit rises in some states because of the increased cost of medical care and new technologies. But Avalere Health’s analysis did not find that age mix of enrollees would be a factor.