The Relationship Between Millennials and Obamacare


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Millennials, also referred to as Generation Y, are the generation of Americans born between the early 1980s to mid-1990s. This generation of young adults who came of age at the beginning of a new century, are a large part of the demographic resulting in the election of Barak Obama as president in 2009 and his re-election to a second term in office in 2012.

It isn’t surprising then, based on this information, to think that the majority of millennials would have signed up for the president’s signature healthcare plan Obamacare, aka The Affordable Care Act. A surprising statistic is that young people actually make up less than 30 percent of those who have enrolled in The Affordable Care Act.

That is not an ideal statistic because these millennials are the type of insureds that are healthier and cost less to insure. This may also be part of the reasoning why fewer young people have signed up. Many millennials simply do not have an urgent need for healthcare insurance coverage.

Enrollment Numbers

Based on information in this report from The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, health insurance consumers between ages 18 and 34 made up 25 percent of those enrolled in a health plan through the 36 states that use the enrollment platform in in 2021. Overall, the total of all consumers was 12,004,365 with an average premium of $595.

Obamacare enrollment is down from its early peak in 2016 of 12.7 million enrollees. Enrollment in states where the federal government controls the insurance marketplaces is down while enrollment numbers for state-run health insurance exchanges are holding steady.


Healthcare is a big decision for the millennial and affordability is one issue that has kept some millennials off the rolls of Obamacare. Some may not realize that they could qualify for subsidy programs that might reduce the overall cost of healthcare coverage purchased through the Insurance Marketplace. Some communities, including Dallas, have taken to airing Obamacare enrollment ads in theatres hoping to entice the millennial generation, touting benefits and affordability.

Instability in the Market

Another reason the millennial health insurance buyer may be wary of Obamacare is the instability of the health insurance marketplace. However, that being said, The Henry J Kaiser Family Foundation reports insurers saw better financial results for ACA coverage in 2017 than in prior years. While insurers may be seeing profits, the bad news for insurance consumers is the increase in premiums. Premium charges per insured grew 26% from 2017 to 2018.

Lack of Understanding

A TransUnion Healthcare Millennial study from 2018 shows that 57 percent of millennials do not understand basic healthcare out-of-pocket expenses including co-insurance, co-pays, and deductibles. Another 39 percent said they have difficulty understanding their health insurance benefits.

It’s not surprising then that 74 percent of millennials did not pay their medical bills in full when first receiving the bill. The millennial health insurance consumer is looking for clarity on deductibles, co-pay amounts, and the healthcare billing process.

Benefits of Obamacare for the Millennial Generation

While some millennials may delay the purchase of health insurance, a growing number are coming to understand the importance of having health insurance in place. Unfortunately, this realization will come for some after they have experienced a medical emergency and are faced with delinquent medical bills.

There are some advantages to Obamacare for young adults. The mandated ten essential benefits provide as comprehensive of a health insurance plan as needed by healthier young adults. Buying a plan with the basic benefits and no added extra coverage can result in health insurance premiums many millennials will find more affordable.

What Does the Future Hold?

Millennial employees are making demands of their employers including affordable healthcare options. The millennial generation grew up in the face of technology. Not only does this generation want affordable healthcare options, but they also want electronic access to immediately be able to apply for coverage online, access benefit information and make claims through mobile devices. 

They want the convenience of accessing a medical record, scheduling appointments and getting medical advice through a single login. Doctors looking to keep up with the millennial health insurance consumer will have to meet him at his comfort level—through social networks and mobile app devices.

As far as preferences in healthcare providers, this survey shows 34 percent prefer a retail clinic to receive healthcare while another 25 percent prefer to receive care at acute healthcare clinics. Overall, the millennial insurance consumer is looking for faster, convenient and more affordable healthcare insurance options.