With the implementation of the individual mandate beginning January 1, 2014, one of the main intentions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is to broaden insurance coverage and reduce the number of uninsured. One of the most prominent groups among the uninsured that the ACA is looking to cover consists of young, healthy adults. It is common belief that healthy people in the age range of 18-30 years old avoid buying health insurance because they believe themselves less likely to suffer serious illness or injury. A recent study by Kaiser Family Foundation, however, shows just the opposite.
Young Adults Want and Value Health Insurance
According to Kaiser Family Foundation, when people ages 18 - 30 were asked if insurance is important to them, 71% said yes. Furthermore, when they were polled on whether or not insurance was something they need, 75% said that it was. So, in fact, only 25% of young, healthy adults believe that they are healthy enough to live without insurance.
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation June Health Tracking Poll.
Young Adults Uninsured Because of Cost
So if they value and want health insurance, why are the young and healthy among the highest uninsured, and why are they one of the main targets of federal health care reform?
The simplest answer is cost.
Research shows that most young adults choose to be uninsured not because they think themselves invincible, but because of the increasing cost of health insurance premiums. As the price of insurance rises, more healthy people are willing to take the risk of living without insurance because they can’t afford it. As more and more healthy people opt not to be covered, and the insurance pool becomes filled with people prone to sickness and injury, the insurance rates only get higher. And so begins a vicious cycle where less are insured and the prices go up. But in the end, people are choosing not to be insured because of the price, not because they don’t think that insurance is important.
According to the administration, one of the intentions of the ACA is that by providing discounts on health insurance premiums with the health insurance subsidies, and by requiring most Americans to be covered under the individual mandate, more young and healthy people enter the insurance pool.
Will it work? Let us know in the comments below.