As the State and Federal Insurance Marketplaces prepare to open October 1, 2013, a critical question is being asked. Will Millennials (individuals between 18 and 34 years of age) who find health insurance to expensive or unnecessary take responsibility for their healthcare? Will these individuals continue to gamble on their health even if it is affordable? The saying “A life welled lived is a life well planned” is particularly relevant when it comes to an individual’s health.
Nationally 28% of 18 – 34 year olds are uninsured. This equates to approximately 9 million people being uninsured. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 77 percent of 18 – 25-year-olds and 71 percent of 26 – 30-year-olds say having health insurance is very important. Both groups responded more unfavorable when the questions included health insurance costs.
It is estimated for ObamaCare to be considered a success approximately 2 million young healthy Americans will need to buy coverage between Oct. 1, 2013 and March 31, 2014. It is well understood that young and healthy Americans are required to be in the overall pool to offset the cost of older and sicker Americans. This cost sharing is a key part to ObamaCare providing most Americans health insurance. But as of now with the acceptation of a few state ran Insurance Marketplaces, NO ONE KNOWS HOW OBAMACARE WILL IMPACT THEM. On October 31 go to www.healthcare.gov , find a navigator, a person trained to provide information about health insurance or go to a health insurance agent and get the truth on how ObamaCare will impact you. Health insurance will be discounted for those earning up to 400% of the poverty level by tax rebates and the expansion of Medicare in participating states. You can find out if your state is participating in expanded Medicare at obamacarechoice.com or healthcare.gov.
For the naysayers who desire to rush out and declare that ObamaCare is a failure because of low young adult participation on Oct. 2 remember the sign-up period for the program is 6 months. Both Medicare and Social Security got off to rocky starts but survived and are safety nets for the elderly and poor. In Massachusetts after passing healthcare reform the uninsured rate for 19 – 26-year olds fell from 21 percent to 8 percent. Before declaring ObamaCare DOA wait for all the information to be compiled.
Insurance companies can play a role in attracting young adults by providing add-ons to policies that Millennials want. Policies will need to be developed to meet the needs and desires of this demographic. If health insurance providers feel a one-size policy meets the insurance needs of all young adults they will lose out. Policies must not only be based on age and gender they must have add-ons specific to regions. States have long understood that the health insurance needs of their residents vary.
The key word for 18 – 34 year olds is wellness. Mandates such as yearly doctor visits, remaining on parent policies until 26 year of age and competitive insurance marketplaces are important, but much more can be done by working with retailers and service suppliers of goods and services important to this demographic. Discounted gym
memberships, sports equipment or vitamin supplements could be offered with little or no cost to insurance providers. Programs and policies that reward smoking secession, lower obesity and get young adults off the couch will lower the costs to insurance companies now and in the future. Why shouldn’t insurance companies sponsor weight loss contest similar to those sponsored by businesses to their employees. These add-ons should be wrapped into insurance policies being offered to Millennials.
Millenniums will respond to health insurance companies that are HIP – Holistic, Interactive and Personal. Creating insurance policies that only treat the effects of poor health decisions or accidents will not meet this demographics needs.
In summary the success of ObamaCare is dependent on all eligible Americans participating. Young adults should wait and see what the cost of health insurance will be for them and their families, then weigh cost against health risks before making a decision about ObamaCare. There are some that believe that early detection and treatment of high blood pressure, hypertension, high cholesterol, STDs and other silent killers can wait until they are 50. They will learn the benefits of early detection the hard way and that good health is more complicated than age and a healthy lifestyle.