Being Prepared Over Feeling Invincible: Why Medical Insurance Is Important While You Are Young
By Chris Garrido-Philp, Bilingual Outreach & Enrollment Specialist, WithinReach AmeriCorps
Since the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, a lot of attention has been given to the “Young Invincibles,” or people aged 19-26, and the worry that they would not sign up or use their health insurance. The term “Young Invincibes” was coined by the health insurance industry to describe young adults who are relatively healthy but choose not to have insurance due to the belief that, their chances of getting hurt or sick are slim to none. I am one of those “Young Invincibles” and I’m very familiar with the feeling of rarely getting sick. Even so, I am glad to have insurance and the security that if I do have a serious health issue, I’ll be covered.
Not too long ago I walked into my doctor’s office unable to remember the last time I had been in for a check-up. I didn’t even remember my doctor’s name, let alone what he looked like. I wasn’t avoiding him on purpose; I just never felt the need to go. When I did get sick, it was easily fixed with some fever reducing medication and rest. The appointment reminded me of the importance of regular check-ups and preventative measures. He asked me if my childhood asthma was still manageable and if I needed an inhaler to be safe. While I haven’t suffered a serious asthma attack in years, I was glad he addressed this important health issue; as my new job takes me outdoors on occasion. So, I told him I would need an inhaler for emergencies and he prescribed it for me. I feel so much happier knowing that I am healthy and prepared.
While youth is associated with good health, there are multitudes of conditions that can appear without any notice. Cancer, STDs, neurological disorders, ulcers, and others that can happen at any age, not to mention injuries like sprains and broken bones. When you’re just out of high school or college, ready to face adulthood and get a job, that doesn’t automatically prepare you for full independence. It especially doesn’t provide you with the skill sets you need if you are facing a health problem on your own. Living uninsured is always a risk and can cost people more than they expect. It can result in an exorbitant amount of medical expenses that can derail your future plans; such as postponing college, having a family, starting a new job, finding a new home and more.
Although, paying for monthly premiums can be difficult and expensive, having medical insurance helps manage life’s unexpected moments of vulnerability by reducing your medical costs. Having coverage is also a preventive measure that allows you to discover certain health conditions and treat them before they get worse. Youth may be in a period of perceived invincibility, but life is notorious for changing unexpectedly. None of us are truly invincible, but being prepared and having insurance when we need it brings us closer to the goal of living a long, healthy life.
You could be eligible for our state’s Medicaid program (Washington Apple Health) or a subsidy from the government to help you pay for insurance. Call WithinReach’s Family Health Hotline today at 1-800-322-2588 or visit our website at www.parenthelp123.org for more information.
‘Young Invincibles’ Helping ‘Young Invincibles’ Enroll in Health Insurance
Written by AmeriCorps members Kari Geiger and Natasha Pietila
On Friday, December 13th, a few of my colleagues and I left the city and headed off to Stevens Pass Ski Resort for a special health insurance enrollment event. Although Friday the 13th is often considered unlucky, we experienced no ill luck. It was a beautiful, snowy day – particularly exciting for me, a California-girl, who had never played in the snow. As certified In-Person Assisters, we had the opportunity to join the event with the Washington Health Benefit Exchange at Stevens Pass Ski resort to help enroll some of their 600 seasonal and part time employees in health insurance.
After crossing the resort’s quad, a slippery journey for my first time in snow (and lack of snow boots), we joined a large group of In-Person Assisters and Insurance representatives in the cafeteria and started talking to and helping enroll the ski instructors, emergency rescuers, and ski enthusiasts. Stevens Pass was generous enough to set up a hot drink and snack station, as well as providing a hot lunch of chili and grilled cheese. Whenever we were available, a new client would swish up in their snow gear and sit down with us to navigate through the Washington Healthplanfinder. While I got to teach about the healthplanfinder and how to use it, my clients taught me the difference in snow sport climates and conditions. One ski instructor, Clayton, pointed out the differences between the rain and snow falling on the mountain, and how it affects the mountain and skiing conditions. Another one of the clients I talked to that day was a ‘young invincible,’ who at 27 was no longer covered by her parent’s health insurance, and was nervous about using the free ski pass (a perk of being employed at Stevens Pass) without health coverage.
At the end of the day we enrolled several people in Washington Apple Health, others selected a Qualified Heath Plan, and others went home to discuss the intricacies of their cases with their families and finish their application on their own. It was a great asset to have access to the knowledge of other the In person assisters from King County Public Health and other organizations. Overall, it was a lovely day of watching skiers and snowboarders race down (and sometimes fall down) the mountains, hot chocolate, and connecting people to healthcare.