Young and healthy? You still need health insurance

ambulance
Accidents happen, even to the young and healthy.
Credit: Rikard Larma/Metro

Every week, Archelle Georgiou, MD, strategic adviser at Healthgrades, will explain one facet of the Affordable Care Act.

This week, the Obama administration will release information on the number of individuals who have signed up for health insurance through the new online exchanges. Due to the technology issues, the numbers will undoubtedly be low. Despite the slow start, however, the goal is to have about 7 million people enrolled in 2014, with about 2.6 million being the young and healthy.

But will that essential group sign up? According to the Center for Health System Change, between 22 percent and 26 percent of uninsured adults between the ages of 18 and 35 believe that they are “healthy enough that I don’t need health insurance.”

Before you convince yourself that you are invincible and willing to take the risk of being uninsured, take these facts into consideration:

  • Each year, about 52 million people between the ages of 18 and 44 go the emergency room for care. Based on an analysis of 10 common conditions, the average cost of an ER visit is $1,233. That’s more than most people pay for one month’s rent.
  • For individuals between the ages of 18 and 44, about 1 in 12 will be admitted to the hospital each year. The average cost of a hospital stay in 2011 for 18- to 44-year-olds was $25,869. Do you have that much cash set aside for an unexpected hospital stay?
  • Twenty percent of the population between the ages of 19 and 64 struggle to make their medical payments; in 2013, high medical bills were the largest cause of bankruptcy filings.

Still think you’re fine because you’re healthy? The fact is, young, healthy adults land in the emergency room or the hospital because of unintentional injuries such as accidents and falls. Yes, you may be healthy today, but unless you live in a bubble, you are at risk for getting hurt.

Don’t let a medical emergency also lead to a financial disaster. Getting health insurance is important for your physical health as well as your economic security.


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