Maggie: Now, how much thought have you given to health care insurance? If you are like most young people, it is probably not a whole lot. But as Shelby Holliday tells us, a new government program may change the way you think.
Shelby: Jordan Zavaleta is what the health care industry calls a ‘young invincible.’ He is young and he is healthy, so he doesn’t have health insurance because it is expensive to buy on his own.
Jordan Zavaleta: In the past couple of years that I’ve been living on my own, I’ve seen the doctor once.
Shelby: Jordan is one of the 19 million young adults under the age of thirty-four who does not have health insurance. But that could all change starting in 2014 when a new mandate, often called Obamacare, will require all Americans to have health insurance or pay a $95 fine or 1% of their income.
The goal is to make sure every American has access to affordable health care, even the ones who are young and healthy. So, starting on October 1st, the government is offering online exchanges, kind of like an eBay or an Amazon, where you can shop around and compare insurance plans on the internet.
Tamika Butler: When young people have that option, they get it. They’ll get insured. We just have to do the work.
Shelby: Tamika Butler is the California director for an advocacy group that helps young adults get coverage. She says the new exchanges, along with government aid, will encourage young people to get insurance. But some states are scrambling to get the exchanges up and running by October 1st.
Ross Brown: There are a lot of things that need to be done, particularly on the IT side of things and the systems side of things.
Shelby: The exchanges could also be delayed by Republican opponents who say Obamacare is flawed.
Senator Ted Cruz: This thing ain’t working. And I’ll tell you right now, the single biggest fight in Washington and, I think, the most important fight is the fight to defund Obamacare.
Shelby: Despite the hold-ups, the Obama administration is moving forward. It hopes to enroll 7 million Americans in the exchanges by next spring. For the system to work, about 2.7 million of them need to be young adults.
Butler: When young people are insured, it’s going to bring down the cost for everybody because we’re relatively healthy. In order to make this law successful, we really need everyone to get insured.
Shelby: Jordan says he plans to sign up for insurance when enrollment begins in October.
Jordan: I want to be active. I want to do all these things that could potentially get me very hurt. And if that happens, I’d like to be safe and be covered.
Shelby: Jordan’s insurance will cost about $200 a month, but the big question is will other young people be willing to pay the same?
Shelby Holliday, Channel One News.