You probably saw the push: basketball stars, late-night TV appearances, radio interviews and hilarious viral videos. The Obama administration's push to ensure young people got covered before the March 31 deadline was important, and it appears to have succeeded.
Through the open enrollment period, a lot of attention focused on whether young, healthy people signed up enrolled in the exchanges. And in particular, critics honed in on slow early enrollment by young people, believing low enrollment by young people would undermine the law's success and cause premiums to increase. While the March 31 deadline was important, in reality it wasn't the final deadline for young people.
Today, we know that more than 8 million Americans -- and 28 percent of those 18 to 34 -- have gained health insurance through the exchanges.
We knew from the beginning that young people would likely enroll later in the open enrollment period, similar to what Massachusetts experienced in their marketplace. As each month passed, enrollment numbers showed young people getting covered in larger numbers. Since January 1, nearly half of those picking new health insurance plans were between 18 and 34 years old.
But the Affordable Care Act doesn't stop benefiting young people now. In fact, it's important to know that young people will likely have more changes to enroll than older generations.
Young people, and the Millennial generation in particular, lead more fluid lives. We're typically faced with important life decisions -- like a new job or starting a family -- at a more frequent rate than older Americans. That means many of us will continue to have opportunities to get covered or find a new plan that's right for us. We're calling these #EnrollmentMoments.
One of the most widely noted opportunities is the new provision, part of the Affordable Care Act, that allows young people to stay on a parent's plan until they turn 26. This important option is already providing coverage to 3.1 million Millennials. This gives us peace of mind as we pursue career opportunities, higher education or other prospects.
Now, as more young people turn 26 each day, they will have the option to enroll in health insurance plans. As Millennials, the largest generation in history, ages we'll see an increase in the number of healthy individuals entering the marketplace.
Another opportunity to get covered comes with changes in employment. Our careers are more fluid than our parent's generation, and we're more likely to job hop. Now, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, we no longer have to worry about losing our health insurance as we debate changing or switching jobs. The law allows young people more flexibility as we contemplate our career plans.
You're also more likely to get married or start a family as a young person. While the marriage rate is declining, the average age of marriage is between 26 and 29 -- and half of American women have their first child by the time they're 25, according to a Center for American Progress report. Under Obamacare, both of these life situations provide yet another opportunity for our generation to get covered.
Before the Affordable Care Act, many of these opportunities to enroll would leave many of us uninsured -- at a time when our lives are the most fluid -- and many would be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions.
Now, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, millions of Millennials stand to benefit from the added protections and affordable health insurance. We are encouraged to see that so many Americans have already enrolled in the exchanges. And as we experience these #EnrollmentMoments and have more opportunities than other generations to get covered, it's crucial that we continue to educate our peers and encourage them to enroll.