Young people may yet come forward in droves to buy coverage on the health insurance exchanges, according to The Washington Post, balancing the financial risks of covering an influx of older, sicklier Americans. Here are four reasons to expect youth on-boarding:
Reason #1: No, Virginia, there's no invincibility
Though medical insurance can be a difficult sell to healthy young Americans, "young people are not actually invincible," The Post wet-blankets, noting severe illness can strike anytime. Twenty-somethings who are perfectly healthy can develop illness or diseases, joining the ranks of others with pre-existing conditions who need insurance.
Further, young adults aren't immune from catastrophic events. For example, 2013 marks the tenth anniversary of Rhode Island's Station Nightclub fire, where 100 people perished and 230 were injured at a rock concert, according to Boston University Today, including many uninsured young adults.
Reason #2: Having health insurance is now a legal requirement
Though some millennials prefer to pay tax penalties instead of buying legally-required-but-costly health insurance, breaking the law remains an uncomfortable idea for many. "Even most young people will ultimately want to follow the rules," The Post noted.
Reason #3: Available subsidies aren't widely understood
Young, uninsured people are disproportionately poorer and less apt to pay attention to news about healthcare, The Post reported. This, coupled with prior federal enrollment website inoperability, may have masked available subsidies from awareness. "But once the range of financial help trickles through the national consciousness, young people will be surprised at the prices on offer," The Post noted. However, almost 4 million uninsured people between the ages of 21 and 29 can expect to pay more out-of-pocket for single coverage under reform than they otherwise would, even with premium assistance, as FierceHealthPayer previously reported.
Reason #4: Parental pressure
Knowing an accident or serious illness can cause financial ruin, many parents will prod their adult children into buying health insurance coverage if it isn't available through their own plans. "A little single laceration can easily run into the multiple thousands," The Post noted, and the thought of medical bankruptcy can make parents nervous.