WASHINGTON (CBS Connecticut) — Former Vermont governor and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean is refuting the idea young, healthy Americans must sign up for the Affordable Care Act for the law to work.

Speaking with George Stephanopoulos on ABC News’ “This Week,” Dean said the long-held White House projection is inaccurate.

“It is not true that if young people don’t sign up the program doesn’t work,” said Dean. “That’s false.”

Stephanopoulos replied that, “The White House said they have to have a third of the people … 2.7 of 7 million people … have to be young people.”

“That’s not true, actually, because what … the reason that is framed as being true is, everybody assumes you can’t do a community rating, without an individual mandate, and that’s not true,” responded Dean. “And I know that because I did it 20 years ago, we did most of the stuff that’s in Obamacare. We have all — almost every child under 18 has had health insurance in our state (Vermont) for almost 20 years.”

The Affordable Care Act allows young adults to remain on their parents’ insurance plans until the age of 26. A 2013 Gallup poll finds that, 23.7 percent of 18- to 25-year-olds are uninsured. Beginning in 2014, children up to age 26 can stay on their parent’s employer plan even if they have another offer of coverage through an employer.

Young, healthy people are considered crucial to the federal health care system so that the marketplaces do not fill with older, sicker Americans – causing premiums to skyrocket. The White House has set a goal of enrolling 7 million people in private insurance plans through the health insurance exchanges by March 31, 2014. According to the Washington Post, 2.7 million of those people will need to be in the 18-35 age range.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimated that nearly 6 out of 10 uninsured Americans could be able to access low-cost, high value health insurance for under $100 per person per month starting in 2014.

Connecticut’s marketplace, Access Health CT, reported earlier this week that approximately one-third of applicants since Oct. 1 have been under the age of 35.

–Benjamin Fearnow


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