This is an excellent article in the New York Times about young people who avoid purchasing health insurance because their age makes them feel invulnerable or because health insurance policies are too expensive. While there are clinics set up to handle routine care for the uninsured, if an uninsured individual needs treatment for a major illness it will likely cost them a large amount of money. Medical Cost Advocate can achieve significant savings for uninsured families by professionally negotiating their bills.
The New York Times, By Cara Buckley
They borrow leftover prescription drugs from friends, attempt to self-diagnose ailments online, stretch their diabetes and asthma medicines for as long as possible and set their own broken bones. When emergencies strike, they rarely can afford the bills that follow.
“My first reaction was to start laughing — I just kept saying, ‘No way, no way,’ ” Alanna Boyd, a 28-year-old receptionist, recalled of the $17,398 — including $13 for the use of a television — that she was charged after spending 46 hours in October at Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan with diverticulitis, a digestive illness. “I could have gone to a major university for a year. Instead, I went to the hospital for two days.”
In the parlance of the health care industry, Ms. Boyd, whose case remains unresolved, is among the “young invincibles” — people in their 20s who shun insurance either because their age makes them feel invulnerable or because expensive policies are out of reach. Young adults are the nation’s largest group of uninsured — there were 13.2 million of them nationally in 2007, or 29 percent, according to the latest figures from the Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit research group in New York.
Gov. David A. Paterson of New York has proposed allowing parents to claim these young adults as dependents for insurance purposes up to age 29, as more than two dozen other states have done in the past decade. Community Catalyst, a Boston-based health care consumer advocacy group, released a report this month urging states to ease eligibility requirements to allow adult children access to their parents’ coverage.
“There’s a big sense of urgency,” said Susan Sherry, the deputy director of Community Catalyst. She described uninsured young adults as especially vulnerable. “People are losing their jobs, and a lot of jobs don’t carry health insurance. They’re new to the work force, they’ve been covered under their parents or school plans, and then they drop off the cliff.”
If Governor Paterson’s proposal is approved, an estimated 80,000 of the 775,000 uninsured young adults across New York Statewould be covered under their parents’ insurance plans. That would leave hundreds of thousands to continue relying on a scattershot network of improvised and often haphazard health care remedies.
In dozens of interviews around the city, these so-called young invincibles described the challenge of living in a high-priced city on low-paying jobs, where staying healthy is one part scavenger hunt and one part balancing act, with high stakes and no safety net.
“For a lot of people, it’s a choice between being able to survive in New York and getting health insurance,” said Hogan Gorman, an actress who was hit by a car five years ago and chronicled her misadventures in “Hot Cripple,” a one-woman show that was a hit at last summer’s Fringe Festival. “There was no way that I could pay my rent, buy insurance and eat.”