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Insight & Analysis / Young - But Invincible?

The average age of a U.S. Olympian in the Sochi Games is 26. They are young, healthy and at the height of their athletic careers – probably feeling very invincible.

Here in Colorado, members of that Olympian age group – between 19 and 34 - are more likely to be uninsured (24.9 percent in 2013) than members of any other age group. Can we conclude that they feel so invincible they don’t think they need health insurance?

Results from the 2013 Colorado Access Survey suggest this may not be the whole story.

While feelings of invincibility may be a motivator for not having insurance among this age group, cost was the most commonly cited reason. About one third (33.6 percent) of uninsured 19- to 34-year-olds cited not needing insurance as the reason for lacking coverage, but about double that percentage (73.0 percent) reported that high cost was the reason.

Additionally, 30.7 percent of young adults reported they were uninsured because the person in their family who had health insurance lost their job or changed employers.  Nearly one of five (18.0 percent) reported not knowing how to get health insurance.

Much attention has been given to this age group since the enactment of the Affordable Care Act. These younger and healthier adults diversify the risk pool for insurers and offset some costs of insuring the chronically ill. Many argue that a failure to enroll young adults will result in a failure of the system. A report from the New York Times last week revealed that 25 percent of those who have selected a private plan are between the ages of 18 and 34. In Colorado, nearly one of four (23 percent) of those who have selected a private plan are in this age group.  


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