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Most Young Americans Want To Buy Health Insurance, But They Can’t Afford It

By Sy Mukherjee  

"Most Young Americans Want To Buy Health Insurance, But They Can’t Afford It"

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Young Americans want health insurance, need health insurance, and think that health insurance is worth its price. But many — particularly the uninsured — can’t afford it, according to a new poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF).

KFF found that adults between the ages of 18 and 30 overwhelmingly consider having health insurance “very important to them personally,” and that only a quarter of them think they’re healthy enough to forgo coverage.

But many young Americans can’t afford insurance even if they want it. KFF’s survey found that these uninsured Americans’ number one barrier to getting coverage is how prohibitively expensive it is:

Young Americans aren’t alone. The arbitrarily high price of American medical care drives many people to forgo it out of fear of bankruptcy. Over one in three Americans skimp out on medical treatment due its costs, according to Gallup.

Without a health care plan to fall back on, uninsured young adults are worried about incurring unaffordable medical bills. Fifty one percent say they are “very worried” that they can’t afford even routine health care services, and 67 percent say they are “very worried” about the cost of a catastrophic illness or bad accident. Treating a serious injury can cost thousands of dollars depending on the hospital, and young Americans without health coverage would have to foot that bill.

One Obamacare provision has spared 3.1 million Americans from that fate by allowing them to stay on their parents’ insurance plan longer, up to age 26. A May study concluded that saved these young Americans from running up $147 million in high medical bills for treating serious injuries, such as broken bones and traumatic brain injuries, in 2011 alone.

Even more young Americans will experience Obamacare’s fiscal protections as it is fully implemented — particularly those who are too old to qualify for the 26-year-old rule or those who don’t receive insurance through their employer. Early figures indicate that these Americans will be able to buy affordable coverage on Obamacare’s statewide marketplaces, since the health law provides federal subsidies that help pay for insurance premiums. For instance, a young, relatively healthy adult in California who wants health insurance but can’t currently afford it could wind up paying less than $170 per month — or even less if he or she has a lower income — for a “Bronze-level” plan that offers a minimum level of benefits, including for prescription drugs and mental health care.

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