Study shows why young adults opt out of health insurance

A new study on the cost of health insurance for young adults reveals why they may be opting out of signing up.
March 3, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
A new study on the cost of health insurance for young adults reveals why they may be opting out of signing up.

More than half of Americans who enrolled in plans under the Affordable Care Act in the first three months were between the ages of 45 and 64 -- one-third of them senior citizens. That's compared to only 22 percent who are between 18 and 34 -- well below the Obama administration's target of around 40 percent.

Being healthy doesn't entitle you to a big break on insurance costs. Emergencies don't necessarily cost less with insurance. And being uninsured is five times cheaper than being insured. Those are just some of the reasons young adults Action News talked with said they'd rather be fined then sign up for health insurance.

Fresno City College student Carlos Vasquez is like many others his age. He's an unemployed full-time student without health care.

"It's time-consuming if you want to get health," said Vasquez.

Even though he does worry about an emergency, he falls under a category called the "young invincibles" -- a group of young adults between the ages of 18 and 34 who consider themselves healthy enough to go without care.

"They're not ever going to get into an accident, or die, or become ill. They're more worried about if I become sick, not how I'm going to get care, but how am I going to get through this class," said FCC Health Services Coordinator Jennifer Brennan,.

According to a new study by the consumer finance website NerdWallet, being in the healthy majority was the number one reason young adults opt out of signing up for health insurance. That's because many believe it doesn't entitle you to a big break on costs.

"I'm thankful that I'm on my mom's because I don't know what I'd do because I can't afford it," said FCC student Ebonice Williams.

The report also found while many young invincibles worry about going uninsured and risking massive bills following a trip to the emergency room, being insured may cost them an upwards of $700 more for a visit to the hospital. That's because most insurance plans require the policy holder to meet a deductible before benefits kick in.

Still, Brennan believes signing up for insurance is the best protection for young adults.

"It's worth it to have the insurance, to get the care, to get the antibiotic because this community doesn't have a lot of resources for a person with no money," said Brennan.

The study also found foregoing insurance this year could save young adults more than $1,000 -- assuming there's no major medical issues. That's because the uninsured who visit the doctor spend less on these visits per year then they're insured peers. But it's impossible to rule out certain sicknesses or an accident. So health professionals say getting insurance may save you in the end.


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