Five Things Young Adults Should Know About Buying Health Insurance

By Lisa Gillespie
Kaiser Health News.

Imagine what you could do with $2,000. If you’re between 18 and 34, you might travel somewhere fun. Maybe buy a big TV. But would you buy health insurance?

Take it from another millennial: Think about insurance if you don’t have any.

We don’t get sick often, and maybe we’ll never get hurt, but without insurance, a serious accident or illness could put you on the hook for staggering medical bills that will haunt you for years.

People in our 18- to 34-year-old age range represent half of the 10.5 million uninsured Americans eligible to sign up this fall for coverage under the federal health law, the government estimates.

Enrollment began Nov. 1 and runs until Jan. 31, but Dec. 15 is the last day to get in if you want coverage starting Jan. 1.

“It can be easy to cut corners, but your health is important,” said Erin Hemlin, national training director at Young Invincibles, an advocacy group for 18- to 34-year-old Americans on health care and other issues. Protecting yourself against an accident’s financial consequences “provides a peace of mind that you won’t be in tons of medical debt for years and years to come.”

That sounds simple, but we all have different opinions, obligations and opportunities. I’m fortunate to have insurance through my job reporting on health care. If you lack coverage, you’re worried about money and you’re confused about your choices, here are five questions to consider:

1. What will insurance do for me?
You can count on coverage for what the government calls essential health benefits. All plans sold on the federal marketplaces must offer them.

Preventive services such as shots and screening tests are free. You can’t be denied coverage for a preexisting health condition. Expect to pay some of the cost for other covered services, such as emergency care or a hospital stay. Beyond the essentials, how much of your health care will be paid by insurance depends on the type of health plan you buy.
But if you’re 26 or older, you can’t stay on your mom and dad’s health plan any longer.

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