Young adults – sometimes referred to as “young invincibles” – who are healthy and don’t think they need health insurance should be paying more attention to their health insurance coverage options. Why? The fact is that out of more than eight million individuals nationwide who enrolled in health insurance coverage for 2014, only about 28 percent were between the ages of 18 and 34.
There are, however, many good reasons why young adults should consider signing up for health insurance coverage, including:
Peace of mind
Almost everyone will need health care services at some point, and without health insurance, you could be faced with paying the bill yourself.
For example, a three-day hospital stay could cost as much as $30,000. To help cover these costs, hospitalization is now one of the Essential Health Benefits that must be provided by insurance plans sold on the Health Insurance Marketplace.
Even something as routine as a broken leg from skiing, bicycling or playing sports could cost you $7,500 on average if you don’t have health insurance.
Living with a chronic illness such as diabetes or asthma can also be costly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the incidence of type 2 diabetes is increasing, even among young adults. The American Diabetes Association estimates that the average annual cost of diabetes is $13,700 in medical expenses per person. Without health insurance – and everyone is now guaranteed to receive coverage under the ACA regardless of medical history – you may have to pay for those expenses yourself.
Remember the old saying “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?” Preventive services such as routine physicals, immunizations and screenings are also included in coverage sold on the Health Insurance Marketplace. What’s more, these preventive services are covered without additional out-of-pocket cost, such as a deductible or co-pay.
Regular health exams and tests can help identify problems before they start, and can also help find problems early, when the chances for treatment and cure are better.
One reason young adults often give for not purchasing health insurance is that they feel they can’t afford it because of other financial burdens, such as school loans.
To help address the affordability of health insurance, tax credits and cost-sharing subsidies are available from the government that may help make premium costs more manageable or may help lower out-of-pocket expenses such as co-payments at the doctor’s office or pharmacy.
Based on the Health Insurance Marketplace’s income ranges for 2015, a single person with an income between $11,670 and $29,175 may qualify for both lower premiums and lower out-of-pocket expenses. And a single person making up to $46,680 may still qualify for lower premiums.
Finally, it’s important to remember that the ACA is the law, and most people are now required to have health insurance. In fact, if you don’t have health insurance coverage, you may have to pay a tax penalty.
With open enrollment for 2015 underway, we encourage all young adults to consider the many good reasons for having health insurance – because life is unpredictable, and that $7,500 broken leg just may happen to you.
Suzanne M. Fletcher is Program Lead for Health Care Reform and Vice President of Finance and Administrative Services for Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania.