Health Insurance & Young Adults

Among the groups that oppose the Affordable Care Act are young adults who resent the health insurance mandate.  They argue that their participation merely funds healthcare for the elderly since they, themselves, do not need expensive screening or medical therapies.

Unfortunately, that assumption is not always accurate.  Having practiced hospital medicine for most of my career, I cared for a large number of young adults who needed costly inpatient treatment.  In the majority of cases, their expensive hospitalization was related to accidents, malignancy or acute infections such as complicated pneumonia, meningitis and pyelonephritis.  Then there are medical problems that often present in early adulthood, such as type 1 diabetes, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, lupus and schizophrenia, to name but a few.

To forego health insurance because one is "young and healthy" is to ignore the risk of a catastrophic injury or illness that may lead to financial disaster.  In many cases, such debt places the individual's family at risk as well; parents may exhaust their savings to provide assistance and the patient's spouse and children may become impoverished by the expenses of repeated hospitalizations, chemotherapy, rehabilitation and other treatments.  Indeed, financial planning must begin with the independence of early adulthood and obtaining health insurance should, in my opinion, take precedence over the purchase of a house and other investments.