Young Adults

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Nearly 500,000 Californians Enrolled in Obamacare Plans, Federal Data Show

Screenshot from CoveredCA.com, the website of Covered California.

Screen shot from CoveredCA.com, the website of Covered California.

Federal officials reported Monday that 2.2 million people nationwide have selected a plan in the new health insurance marketplaces established under the Affordable Care Act. Nearly 500,000 of them are Californians.

The numbers were released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which also reported demographics across age groups, gender and tier of plan chosen.

While California makes up about 12 percent of the nation’s population, the state’s enrollment is 22 percent of the national total. Continue reading

Health Law Protected Young Adults From High Hospital Bills

By Sarah Varney, Kaiser Health News

Researchers report that the Affordable Care Act shifted $147 million from individuals -- or hospitals, in the form of uncompensated care -- to private insurance plans. (Indoloony/Flickr)

Researchers report that the Affordable Care Act shifted $147 million from individuals — or hospitals, in the form of uncompensated care — to private insurance plans. (Indoloony/Flickr)

Researchers at the RAND Corporation set out to find some hard data on one aspect of the health law: Does having medical insurance protect young adults from the financial ruin that often comes with a major injury or illness?

The quick answer: Yes, it does.

Since September 2010, the Affordable Care Act has allowed young adults to remain on their parents’ medical insurance until they turn 26, and an estimated 3.1 million young people have taken advantage of the new rule.

The RAND researchers looked at nearly a half a million visits young adults made to emergency departments around the country before and after the under-26 provision took effect.

“We looked at just the most serious conditions,” said Andrew Mulcahy, an associate policy researcher at the RAND Corporation. Mulcahy and his colleagues pored over actual hospital records for bone fractures, poison, traumatic brain injuries, and other incidents that would require an urgent trip to the hospital. Continue reading

Young Adults Will Make or Break Obamacare in California

By Mina Kim, KQED

David Kim, brother of KQED health reporter Mina Kim, is 29-years-old and uninsured. (Mina Kim/KQED)

David Kim, brother of KQED health reporter Mina Kim, is 29-years-old and uninsured. He is considering whether to buy insurance on the health care marketplace if he doesn’t have employer-based coverage next year. (Mina Kim/KQED)

Most of us know someone who doesn’t have health insurance. In my case, it’s my little brother, David Kim.

David is 29-years-old and recently earned an advanced degree in international relations. He hasn’t been able to land a full-time job with health benefits. The two jobs he has now are temporary, and with such a precarious work situation, he just doesn’t think he can afford health insurance.

“I’m totally aware that if I get sick then I’m doomed financially,” Dave told me over a lunch break. “And maybe that’s not a very financially sound decision to make, but it is nonetheless a risk that, for the time being, I’m prepared to take.”

Young adults —18 to 34-year-olds — make up more than 40 percent of California’s uninsured, though they make up less than 30 percent of the population. And according to many health reform advocates, they’re the ones who could make or break Obamacare.

“If we get only sick people, and don’t get the young, healthy people into the insurance system, it’s going to mean premiums are much higher.” 
“The success of this law really does depend on getting young people insured, and frankly getting everyone insured,” said Larry Levitt, a health policy and insurance expert for the Kaiser Family Foundation.

In less than five months, a key piece of Obamacare will go live: state-based insurance marketplaces, called Covered California here. That means millions of Californians looking for coverage for themselves or their families will be able to go online and enroll in qualified health plans regardless of their medical history. Many will get help from federal subsidies. But if the exchange doesn’t enroll enough young, healthy people, insurers will have to hike everyone’s premiums. Continue reading