More millennials in the U.S. are choosing to forgo health insurance, and this is largely due to the rising costs of healthcare that make many plans unattainable.
Between the fall of 2010 and the end of 2011, millions of millennials were put on their parents’ private health insurance plans as a result of the Affordable Care Act’s passage. So while the legislation has protected those under 26 from having to pay for their own coverage, it’s done little to encourage many young people over that age to buy insurance once they’re on their own.
According to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), 30% of young adults in the U.S. are currently uninsured, the highest rate of any age demographic. The fact that many young people perceive themselves as healthy creates its own set of obstacles, as a lack of insurance may dissuade them from getting the check-ups that are so important in preventing future illnesses and detecting diseases in their earliest stages.
Millennials’ Health: a Troubling Reality
So what’s behind this trend? Well first, most so-called “young invincibles” aren’t yet hip to how health insurance works. That’s pretty understandable, considering the confusing lingo (Deductible? HMO? PPO?) that pervades the industry.
Moreover, it’s up to both the government and insurance companies to better educate this generation about the fundamentals, or this group could put themselves at greater risk.
Complicating things further, the United States Department of Labor reports that young adults have the lowest rate of access to employer-based insurance. The entry-level or part-time positions often held by newcomers to the job market usually lack employer-sponsored health insurance, and high unemployment rates certainly don’t help.
Even when health insurance is offered as a benefit, the premiums can be too expensive for millennials who are just starting out to participate.
The uninsured millennials are also finding that even the least expensive plans offered in the ACA’s public marketplace cost too much. The Guardian writes that the “bronze,” or lowest-end plans, include a $6,000 yearly deductible and cost around $250 a month, with copays of up to 40%.
That’s a lot of out-of-pocket money for a young person, particularly those who generally wouldn’t exceed their deductible in most years.
The Magic 26?
Fortunately for many young Americans, one of the first provisions of the Affordable Care Act requires insurance companies to allow members to stay on their parent or guardian’s health insurance until age 26. And that’s a big deal, since it’s generally much cheaper for someone to be an additional dependent rather than pay for individual care.
But there are still drawbacks to this plan. If you study or work far away from where your parents live, their insurance network may not be compatible with the providers in your area, which can make services prohibitively expensive. And for those with chronic conditions, this setup is just plain unfeasible.
Furthermore, many individuals’ parents may not have adequate coverage, or even insurance at all. And for parents and guardians aged 65 or older on Medicaid, family coverage does not exist.
Light at the End of the Tunnel
Still, there are other options out there for uninsured millennials. SingleCare offers an on-demand healthcare network without the limitations and high premiums of traditional insurance plans. Its association with top healthcare providers helps bring you discounted service rates of up to 50%, and you can schedule appointments with the full knowledge of what you’ll pay upfront.
When both the government and traditional insurers can’t support you, turn to SingleCare — because there must be an alternative for our future, and the future depends on this generation.
(Main image credit: 401(K) 2012/flickr)