ASHLAND, Ore. — Young people will be the key to the Affordable Care Act’s success, but health care providers say many young people simply don’t know how to sign up, and are choosing to go without coverage.
Jacob Allphin is a student at SOU, and talking about health insurance, you might as well be speaking Latin.
“I have no clue what the Affordable Care Act is,” Jacob says. “When you say, ‘your part B medical insurance covers this’, they say, what do you mean by part B?”
He’s not alone. Cover Oregon and the Affordable Care Act has rolled out, and the most confused group has been young people, who have only ever been on their parents’ health plans.
“I’m fairly certain that I am on my parents’ plan, but I don’t know much more than that,” said SOU student Krisse Steinmann.
The Affordable Care Act lets people stay on their parent’s plans until they are 26, but when that time comes, or if their families don’t already have insurance, there are plenty of questions.
“I don’t think any of my friends know what health insurance entails, how it covers what they’re doing, or anything like that,” said Allphin.
The catch is, the program needs young people the most, and to offset the cost of guaranteed coverage for seniors.
“The biggest challenge is for the young people to take the first step. It seems like the whole business with the affordable care act is so overwhelming that people don’t know where to start,” said Freddy Sennhauser, with AllCare Health Plan.
At AllCare, a big concern is that many young people will take the too easy step, paying a 95 dollar penalty, instead of signing up for insurance they don’t understand, on websites that don’t work. Health centers say that’s a risky option for patients. You may be young and healthy now, but if you’re in an accident, those medical bills can pile up.
“Community Health Center is doing a lot of letters out to their patients that they know would probably quality for health insurance or assistance,” said Community Health Center worker Erin Scow.
Health centers and insurance providers are both trying to just get the information out there to help young people take that first step. Some said they’ll take it any way they can find it. Under the Affordable Care Act, people who do not purchase insurance will face a penalty on their taxes. That would be either 95 dollars, or 1% of a single person’s yearly income.