3 myths about young invincibles debunked

Young adults, dubbed young invincibles because of their fearless attitude that they won't suffer injuries or major illnesses requiring health insurance, remain crucial to the success of the healthcare reform law--and insurers' ability to offset the high costs of new members with chronic conditions.

The Obama administration, which believes young adults will help keep premiums low for everyone, and insurers alike are keen on attracting young adults to sign up for plans sold on the health insurance exchanges. But some of their best efforts might be based on incorrect, preconceived notions about these folks, as the Washington Post points out in an article debunking common myths about the young invincible population.

Let's examine three of those myths:

1. Young adults don't want health insurance: Although this consumer group does have the highest uninsured rate--about 27 percent of adults 19 to 34 years old lack insurance--that doesn't mean they don't want insurance. Instead, it implies young adults don't typically receive insurance through their employers, often because they're employed through part-time or hourly wage jobs without health benefits, the Post noted. When young adults are offered employer-based insurance, a Commonwealth Fund survey found 67 percent signed up for coverage, FierceHealthPayer previously reported. What's more, 77 percent of young adults aged 18 to 25 said in a Kaiser Family Foundation survey that having health insurance is "very important" and 66 percent called insurance "something I need."

2. Young adults will see high premiums under exchange plans: The healthcare reform law limits the amount insurers can charge older consumers compared to younger ones, so some experts predicted insurers will compensate by raising rates on young adults. And because insurers have been canceling individual plans, young adults might face higher premiums when selecting a new plan sold on exchanges. But many young adults will qualify for Medicaid or federal subsidies, either of which will help reduce their premiums. In fact, the federal government has predicted about 40 percent of young adults will pay less than $100 in premiums for exchange plans, according to the Post.

3. Young adults aren't signing up on exchanges yet: Among states that already have released enrollment information, young adults account for some sign ups on the exchanges. In Washington and California, for example, young adults accounted for about 20 percent of all enrollments in October, the Post reported. And exchange officials still expect young adults to sign up at the last minute before the enrollment period ends in March. Plus, 33 percent of young adults said in a September poll they are "very" or "somewhat" likely to buy insurance through the online marketplaces.

To learn more:
- read the Washington Post article

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