Young people want health coverage — if the price is right

By BenefitsPro

By Kathryn Mayer

Most uninsured young adults — even the so-called young invincibles — believe they need health insurance, according to new analysis. But cost still remains a barrier to getting it.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that just two in 10 uninsured young adults ages 18 to 29 said they were “healthy enough” to go without health insurance. The finding is important as participation from young people will be crucial to the success of the new exchanges under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in order to balance out older, sicker patients.

“Even among uninsured young people who call themselves risk-takers, most say that going without health insurance is one risk they don’t want to take,” said Kathy Hempstead, senior program officer at RWJF. “These results show that demand for coverage is strong, even in this challenging demographic. The challenge for the marketplaces will be to meet this demand by providing these ‘young invincibles’ with products they can afford. If they do, that will benefit everyone.”

The study found that while younger uninsured people typically have few or no health problems, are self-described risk-takers and more likely to believe they can go without health insurance, even a majority of these so-called “young invincibles” believe health insurance is important.

But while many feel health insurance is much-needed, fewer believe coverage is currently affordable. Some analysts have predicted that healthy patients might choose to pay a fine instead of signing up for insurance under the exchanges to save money. But if the price is right, younger people will give more consideration to buying coverage, experts have suggested.

Thirty-seven percent of uninsured people said coverage is “not worth the money that it costs,” while 41 percent said it is worth the cost. The rest (22 percent) were unsure.

What can help? Researchers said that "well-targeted outreach and enrollment efforts may succeed in enrolling young adults in coverage.”

Originally published on