Another Voice: Young adults should weigh risk of no insurance - The Buffalo News

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Another Voice: Young adults should weigh risk of no insurance

By Art Wingerter

Beginning Oct. 1, a variety of health and dental plans will offer insurance through the New York State exchange. According to analysts, the key to the success of this new marketplace, and health care reform in general, is whether enough young adults opt into buying coverage.

My four kids are in their early to mid 20s, so this isn’t just a topic I think about at work.

More than 280,000 New York State adults will turn 26 in 2014. That’s enough young people to fill Ralph Wilson Stadium more than four times. Many of them no longer will be eligible for coverage through their parents’ health plan.

It’s been reported that the Obama administration has targeted enrolling at least 2.7 million young adults, ages 19 to 29, through the state and federal exchanges for coverage in 2014.

Young adults likely will weigh the pros and cons of obtaining health coverage and decide whether to go without coverage or purchase health insurance on the exchange to protect themselves from unexpected medical bills. Part of their decision-making process will involve having a greater sense of what medical services actually cost individuals who are not insured. Univera Healthcare issued an infographic with that specific purpose in mind.

Titled “Happy 26th birthday! Feeling lucky?,” the infographic covers the types of medical costs that uninsured young adults in upstate New York may face, and how those costs compare to other expenses incurred by people in their mid 20s.

A visit to the emergency room costs about $1,000, which is comparable to about 10 months of iPhone bills. Treatment for a concussion is about $2,750, or about what young adults spend for gasoline over 20 months. A broken leg, at about $7,800, is equal to three months’ pay for many young adults. And at $16,000, the costs associated with having a baby are comparable to the average adult credit card debt.

The infographic also details possible benefits of obtaining coverage, including no cost for preventive services such as regular checkups, a $600 gym reimbursement and prescription drug coverage. These are some of the essential benefits that the health care reform legislation requires of all health insurance plans offered on the exchange.

In addition to information on health care costs and coverage benefits, the infographic highlights that young adults may be eligible for financial help when purchasing coverage. In 2014, a young upstate New Yorker with an average income of about $32,000 would qualify for subsidies totaling about $400 to $2,500 annually.

To view the infographic, go to .

Art Wingerter is president of Univera Healthcare, a nonprofit health insurer based in Williamsville.

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