Update: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a new short-term special enrollment period from March 15 to April 30, 2015, giving people in 37 states more time to sign up for 2015 health insurance coverage through Healthcare.gov. Act soon to secure health care coverage for you and your family, and to avoid a tax penalty for 2015. For more information, click here. Check your state marketplace website for updates regarding state-run exchange special enrollment periods.
Young people are less likely to have jobs that offer health benefits or the money to pay for health insurance premiums. That’s why those between the ages of 19 and 34 have historically had among the highest rates of uninsured.
The Affordable Care Act has started to change that.
According to the latest Gallup poll, across age groups, the uninsured rate dropped the most among 18- to 25-year-olds to 17.4%, down 6.1 points from a year ago. The rate also fell among those between the ages of 26 and 34 by an additional 5.6 points during the same time period.
This year’s open enrollment period promises to bring the rate of uninsured down even further. So far, nearly 7.1 million consumers either selected a plan or were automatically re-enrolled through Healthcare.gov. People under the age of 34 accounted for 33% of new enrollees.
Though millions of young Americans have gained health insurance coverage, millions more remain uninsured. If you’re among them, here are 5 reasons to consider buying health insurance.
- Young people have medical needs too. Although young people overall as a group are healthy, they’re not without medical needs.
In fact, about 16% of young people have chronic health problems, such as asthma, heart disease, cancer and diabetes. More than 11% have depression.
Young adults more than any other age group get into car accidents and struggle with substance abuse. And, those between the ages of 19 and 29 visit hospital emergency rooms more than any other group under the age of 75.
- Medical care is pricey. Even a minor medical event like an appendectomy can be quite expensive without health insurance.
Prices vary widely, but one recent study of emergency room charges found that the median charge for an upper respiratory infection was $740. On average, kidney stones cost $3,437.
Without the protection of health insurance, an accident or new medical diagnosis can lead to long-term financial hardship.
- Financial help is available. The law provides financial assistance to help lower the cost of insurance, and most people under the age of 34 will qualify for a subsidy. Single adults earning up to $46,680 a year and families of four earning up to $95,400 are eligible for some level of tax credit to help lower health insurance costs.
In fact, according to a recent government report, about 87% of all people who selected health insurance plans through HealthCare.gov for coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2015 were eligible for financial assistance to lower their monthly premiums.
In addition, the law expanded Medicaid in 28 states around the country. The government-run insurance program for people with low incomes is now open to millions of Americans who previously earned too much to qualify.
- Consider other options. Many young people have options beyond the Marketplace or Medicaid for health insurance coverage.
For example, most colleges and universities offer student health plans. If you’re in the job market, be sure to assess any work-based insurance plans being offered by potential employers. And, remember that you may be able to stay on your parents’ health plan until age 26.
- Penalties for going uninsured are rising. If you had no insurance during 2014, you may get hit with a penalty when you file taxes in the next few months – $95 for adults or 1% of taxable income.
Those amounts rise this year. In 2015, you’ll pay the greater of $325 or 2% of your taxable income. For a single person earning $35,000 that translates to a penalty of $515 in 2015 for going uninsured.
Health insurance provides important medical and financial protection. You can still buy coverage until February 15th. To learn more about how the Affordable Care Act impacts you and where to shop for coverage, visit Turbotaxhealth.com.