As a young adult, I take offense when people say that “we” think we are invincible and therefore don’t need health insurance. Most young adults I know understand why having health insurance is important and want the coverage. Both young adults (typically considered 18-34 year olds) and adults 35 and older probably have either experienced a broken bone, have an allergy, asthma or another respiratory illness or know someone that has. We understand that it is less stressful to have health coverage than not. What many young adults don’t necessarily know is that having health insurance is affordable.
Case in point. The Arizona PIRG Education Fund and other members of the Cover Arizona coalition are in the process of conducting presentations to let young adults and other Arizonans learn about their health insurance options and rights and how to enroll in health insurance. As part of this effort, we have already conducted well over 200 presentations to audiences comprised mostly of young adults. The top question or comment by far has stemmed around affordability. Arizonans are not alone in sharing this concern. I recently participated in the White House Healthy Young America conference along with approximately 100 individuals from across our country. In quite a few conversations, the reaction was the same: many young adults, particularly college students, are focused on paying living expenses, student loans and credit card debt and have a hard time imagining one more monthly bill to pay.
The good news is that health insurance affordability isn’t just a talking point – it is a real prospect. Individuals in Arizona earning $16,000 a year or less are likely to qualify for AHCCCS, and individuals earning $40,000 a year or less are likely to qualify for financial assistance in the health insurance marketplace. The vast majority of Arizonans are receiving financial assistance for their health insurance with the average premium costing less than the monthly expense for many of us who stand in line every day for a shot of morning caffeine. And keep in mind that by not having health insurance not only are you risking one accident that could put you or your family in serious financial trouble, but you’ll also end up facing a fine from the federal government amounting to $325 or 2 percent of your annual income, whichever is greater.
If last year is any indication, young adults are not alone in waiting to sign up for health insurance. With the close of this phase of open enrollment in the health insurance marketplace on Feb. 15, those who want free in-person help should set up an appointment today through coveraz.org/connector or by calling 211. The enrollment assisters who are part of Cover Arizona are there to help you navigate the process and do not receive a dime from the plan you select. Enrollment assisters are available in English, Spanish and other languages; during the day, night and weekends; and in big cities and rural areas across our state. No excuses. #GetCovered.
Arizona PIRG Education Fund
Editor’s note: For more information on PIRG, go to www.arizonapirgedfund.org. The above letter was printed in the Feb. 11, 2015, issue of the East Mesa Independent newspaper.
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