Young People Need Health Care, Too

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Smart aleck that he is, he offered this gem under the guise of ‘just being your friend’: “Well, Anthony, you’re at that age now when things just aren’t always going to feel good all the time. Stuff’s going to go wrong with your body.”

Thank you very much, I told him while mentally scratching his name off my short list of best friends. But truth of the matter, he was right. I’m way past that point in my life when you hop out of bed every day and the farthest thought from your mind is how you feel. Heck, I can barely remember those days when how the shoes looked was more important than how my feet felt after wearing them. And I can better understand now why Mother always told me to wear clean underwear, because you just didn’t know what might happen – you could end up in the hospital before the day’s out.

But at age 19 and even a decade later, clean underwear wasn’t at the top of the list. Sorry, Mom, but that hospital/emergency room threat just didn’t work for me at that young age. And obviously, it doesn’t work today for many of our nation’s “young invincibles,” those adults ages 19 to 29 who are the most likely of any age category to not have health insurance. In fact, most research indicates anywhere from 30-40 percent of all individuals in that age group are uninsured.

Those kinds of numbers mean that, during all the talk of health-care reform and insuring the uninsured, more than one-fourth of the total number of uninsureds in America is made up of 19- to 29-year-olds. Many have left home and are no longer covered on a family policy, and many are beginning their careers in low-wage or entry level-jobs where employer-provided coverage is not offered.

So we need a government plan to make them do the right thing, right? Because health care coverage is just not available or affordable for them, right? Wrong.

Though there are exceptions, for most of these young invincibles, health-care coverage is more available and affordable than it is for anyone else. At TRH Health Plans, we have plans – with health, dental and vision benefits – for less than $100 a month for individuals in this age category.

It’s kind of like something I read a while back comparing health insurance for young adults to broccoli: “They know it’s good for them, but they just haven’t developed a taste for it yet.” It’s all about priorities. Young invincibles don’t think about getting sick. They don’t expect to have a major health concern any time soon – so they spend their disposable income on a motorcycle, on concert tickets, on a new or better vehicle.

And the result is a costly gamble when the young invincible, actually not so invincible as he or she thought before their car accident or sickness, ends up at the emergency room. Now he/she must try to get back on their feet while medical bills begin showing up in the mailbox along with the car note and cell phone bill. And it’s costly for the rest of us, too, who – through higher medical bills and, therefore, higher premiums – must subsidize much of the bill for the young invincible.

So, you young invincibles, do the rest of us a favor: Hop out of bed, put on clean underwear, and contact your local Farm Bureau office to talk about taking care of first things first.

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