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Young adult Obamacare enrollment lags estimates

Obamacare's got some ways to go in signing up young adults.

Young adults make up just 24 percent of the 2.2 million people who have enrolled in private Obamacare insurance plans nationally so far, a rate that not only lags the 40 percent target originally set by federal officials, but also slightly trails their share of the total eligible population, new data released Monday shows.

And 55 percent of the enrollees are between the ages of 45 and 64, data shows.

However, officials on Monday said that the sign-up rate by young adults at the halfway point for Affordable Care Act enrollment is in line with that they expected by this point, and also confidently predicted the proportion of 18-to-34 year olds would rise by the March 31 close of enrollment.

Volunteer Tony Hausner, left, assists an enrollee at a health insurance event in Silver Spring, Md.Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

"We're actually very pleased with the percentage we have so far, and we expect that percentage to increase," said Gary Cohen, deputy Administrator and director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

(Read more: Obamacare exchange visitors looking healthy)

Monday was the first time Health and Human Services Department officials released national demographic data on Obamacare policies.

Their report's other highlights included:

  • 54 percent of enrollees were women, compared to 46 percent male
  • About 60 percent of enrollees selected medium-priced "silver" insurance plans, with 20 percent choosing less expensive "bronze" plans, and just 1 percent choosing even less expensive catastrophic coverage.
  • A total of 79 percent of enrollees received government subsidies to offset the cost of their selected plans.

"It's pretty impressive," said Washington and Lee University health law professor Timothy Jost about that subsidy-eligibility rate, which was right were officials had originally projected it would be.

"You want people who are eligible for subsidies, because those are the most likely to be the [currently] uninsured," said Jost. He said there is good reason to believe that those people are, on average, more likely to be healthy, which could help keep down future insurance rates on the exchanges.


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