One in four young people currently don’t have healthcare, according to a study by the Young Invincibles, a national organization committed to mobilizing and expanding opportunities for young people age 18 to 34.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) hopes to change those numbers this year. But that requires young people to sign up for the programs and to take advantage of the services they offer.
At the beginning of this year, only 24 percent of the people who signed up for the ACA were age 18 to 34 and if more don’t sign up, insurers could raise premiums for 2015.
So, why aren’t young people signing up and what’s it going to take to get them to sign up?
“One way to get more people to sign up for the ACA is to really let people know what it is,” said Cruz Ayala, 20. “People don’t really know much about it and that’s mostly because there isn’t enough advertisements about it that would give people a good idea of what it is.”
Aside from lack of knowledge about it, some think that because they are young and fairly healthy, that they just don’t think they need it.
“Maybe discovering I had a chronic condition, like diabetes, or something [like that] would make me sign up, but as for now, I am a young healthy woman so I don’t need health insurance,” said Jessica Shin, 27.
Under the ACA, young adults are allowed to stay on their parents’ health insurance until the age of 26.
“The ACA is designed to empower you to be in charge of your own health care,” said Kristina Ratthanak, Public Health Emergency Manager at the LB Dept. of Health. “Having health insurance is an important investment in your health and your future. Under the ACA, young individuals can qualify for free or low cost insurance.
The health department argues that young people getting insurance coverage now will help ensure financial security because without health insurance, large medical bills could lead to debt or even bankruptcy. The penalty can also be steep, for the first year, individuals can be fined $95 or 1 percent of your income, whichever is greater.
Approaching quickly is the deadline to sign up for ACA: March 31. If you want to find out more about Medi-Cal or the Affordable Care act, you can find information at Coveredca.com.
For more information on eligibility and to see if you qualify for financial help to lower the cost of your health insurance, call 562-570-7979. The Long Beach Health Dept. has staff that can assist you in English, Spanish, or Khmer.