NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The federal government announced recently that 2.2 million Americans have signed up for health care on a government exchange, but won't say how many have signed up for exchanged-based plans after being booted from their old plans or how many have signed up but haven't paid.
Worse, of those 2.2 million health care consumers, 55% are between the ages of 45 and 64 and considered "less healthy." Younger, healthier enrollees account for only 24% of all signups, signaling potential problems for the ACA down the road.
In a survey of 4,200 Americans by Woodbury, N.Y's Sterling Healthworks, an online destination for identifying health care costs and plans, millennials and consumers over the age of 55 "are less concerned about costs of care and more concerned about keeping their doctors and hospitals, having access to a wider range of health plans and having more pricing transparency."
According to Sterling, 59% of Americans say their faith in the Affordable Care Act has "not increased" since mid-December to mid-January:
- 29% of Americans between the ages 18 and 34 say they want to see a wider range of health plans for all needs, while respondents age 55 and up say their biggest concern is keeping their doctors and hospitals.
- Twice as many women ages 25 to 34 want to see a wider range of health plans for all needs, compared with men.
- While costs aren't as big a factor as plan advocates and critics thought, four times as many respondents predict that their coverage costs will increase this year than consumers who expect to see a decrease in costs.
- In rural areas, 41% expect their plans to be more expensive than they in 2013.
Sterling isn't exactly in the "ACA is the Hindenburg" camp, but experts there say the government and the insurance industry have a ton of work to do to make the ACA right for Main Street Americans.
David Sterling, chief executive of Sterling Healthworks, says health care reform "should be a unifying force in America, creating a sense of stability for families and individuals so they don't have to worry about health care coverage."
"Many consumers signed up for the least expensive bronze plans and will face very high out-of-pocket expenses and limited choice of doctors in these plans," Sterling says. "As we're hearing from consumers, we've got some work to do as a country to make health care reform work for all Americans."