Study: Young people to pay fine over health insurance premium
A generation or more could pass before young people fully accept the wisdom of buying health insurance and the risks of foregoing it, said Dr. Ned Calonge, president and CEO of The Colorado Trust.
Calonge, who welcomed more than 120 people Saturday to Club 20’s forum on the Affordable Care Act, said after his public remarks that young people could pose the greatest obstacle to full compliance with the act.
“Young adults aged 18 to 29 had the highest uninsured rate among any age group in Colorado” according a 2011 study conducted by the trust. “Despite the widespread perception that young adults do not buy insurance because they are healthy and believe insurance is unnecessary, most cite cost as the true reason.”
Nearly 30 percent of the age group, called “young invincibles” by the trust, lacked health insurance in 2011, according to the study. Starting in 2014, however, all U.S. citizens will be required by the Affordable Care Act to carry health insurance or pay a fine.
Some experts believe young adults will choose to pay the fine believing it cheaper than buying insurance.
“I always try to put a little warning in there that you’re only one bad day away from the intensive care unit — injury and accident, something untoward happening you can’t foresee,” Calonge said.
Even if lack of affordable coverage was the reason most young adults gave for deciding not to buy, there continues to be a belief, especially among young men, that health insurance is unnecessary, Calonge said.
“We’re going to have to get acculturated to this. It’s not going to happen overnight,” he said.
“It took 10 years before all states had Medicare up and running and it took another 10 years before everyone said, ‘This is a good thing,’ and now 10 years later, it’s ... a program that we almost can’t fix or change because it’s become such a part of our culture,” Calonge said.
“We’re talking the long haul. We’re talking about a decade of shifting culture changes and getting affordability as the hallmark, and then providing services to young people so they really realize the benefits of accessing the health care system,” he said.
The trust, a nonprofit that has awarded more than $327 million in grants since 1985, has the goal of achieving access to health care for all Coloradans by 2018.