Shelby: Today is a defining moment in American history. Under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, people can start buying health insurance from the government. But in order for the system to work, millions of young people will need to participate. We are taking a closer look at this crucial group.
Flor Ramirez: You would be eligible for Medicaid.
Shelby: Flor Ramirez is helping young people get covered under the new healthcare law.
Flor: Do you have any questions about that?
My job is to make sure that they know what their options are. So my job is to navigate them through the marketplace – this online resource – make sure that they look through all their options.
Shelby: Flor and other navigators across the country have a big task ahead – to help some of nation’s 19 million uninsured young Americans sign up for insurance.
What is the most important thing young people should know?
Flor: It’s important for economic security to have health insurance. You cannot predict the future. And it’s also important to have preventative care services.
Shelby: Convincing young Americans to purchase health care through government exchanges – online marketplaces that offer different kinds of insurance plans – is a key to the success of the Affordable Care Act. Because young people are typically healthy and don’t go to the doctor very much, they will help pay for older Americans, who require more medical services and prescriptions. But getting them to sign up could be a major challenge.
The government needs 2.7 million young Americans to enroll in state exchanges. But recent studies show this young, and often healthy, demographic lacks awareness, money and even motivation to buy insurance.
How much do you know about the healthcare exchanges?
Young person: I don’t know anything about it.
GB: I mean, I just don’t know about it. Like, I’m pretty ignorant, I got to say.
Shelby: And why not? Do you not care?
GB: No, I care. It’s just like it’s really hard for me to keep up with current stuff.
Shelby: Do you feel like you have enough information about it?
Young person: No. But I think that’s partially my own fault.
Shelby: Like many of these young people, three in four young adults are not aware of the new healthcare exchanges opening this month. And those who are are still unsure about signing up.
Do you plan on enrolling in an exchange?
Young person: I’m doing fine so far. It doesn’t seem like a priority.
Shelby: Another big issue keeping young people from buying insurance is cost, even though 7 in 10 say it is important for them to have.
FP: Something that I need. You know, I’m 22 years old. I don’t want to lose my foot, not have insurance, owe money. You know, so it’s definitely something I really need to look into.
Shelby: But money is an issue?
FP: Money is an issue right now. Yeah.
Shelby: Under the new law, the average monthly payments for young people are going up, and insurance could cost them $100-$300 per month if they don’t qualify for government aid. It is a price Harris Spencer will have to face when he turns 26 this week and loses coverage under his parent’s plan.
Do you value it enough that you will suck it up and purchase health insurance?
Harris Spencer: Yeah, I think so, in case something does happen.
Shelby: So can the Obama administration convince these young, and often healthy, Americans to purchase health insurance through the government? Flor Ramirez says that time is on their side.
Flor: Coverage starts October 1st and it ends on March 31st, 2014. So there’s this huge amount of time in which we’ll be reaching out through TV, through newspapers, articles and, like, through Twitter, Facebook. Young people, specifically, should know that they should explore their options and make an aware decision.
Shelby: Under this new law, every American will be required to have health insurance by January 2014. If they don’t, they will face a fine of $95 fine or 1% of their income.