Brad Stevens used to think he didn’t need health insurance. (Sarah Varney/Kaiser Health News)
By Sarah Varney, for Kaiser Health News and NPR
Have you heard about the young invincibles? That’s the name given to young people who think nothing bad can happen to them.
Enrollment of healthy people like them in insurance under the Affordable Care Act is key to offsetting the costs of older, less healthy buyers.
Brad Stevens is 54-years-old and not so invincible anymore. He has been uninsured for most of his adult life — “ever since about 24 when I finished college,” he says. “Basically, I’ve always tried to take care of myself and be healthy and exercise and eat right and take vitamins and that type of thing.”
During the three decades Stevens has spent without health coverage, there have been numerous attempts to curb the ranks of the uninsured in the U.S. Now, the Affordable Care Act is changing the nation’s insurance market.
Stevens, who lives in Lakeport, on the west shore of northern California’s Clear Lake, has plenty of company. Twenty percent of California’s population is uninsured; some 5 million people could gain coverage under the health law.
The Kaiser Family Foundation surveyed 2,000 of California’s uninsured on the eve of the opening of health care exchanges across the country. Stevens took part in the survey, which aims to follow the same people over the next two years. (Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation.)
Over the years, Stevens wasn’t interested in the debate over how best to provide health care to the uninsured. He didn’t view it as an issue for him. “I’m the epitome of health, and so I didn’t have much concern. My health care was working out every day, eating right and taking care of myself,” he says. Continue reading