Hey, 20-Something, Don’t Forget About the Affordable Care Act

Uh Oh.

I think I know why I haven’t talked about the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, at the bar. We—I mean us 20-somethings—have always got a reason: other things to worry about (i.e. rent), lack of time, we’re on our parents’ plan, we buy it from our jobs. But what about those of us who are working service jobs, or don’t make enough at our 9-to-5s to qualify? Even if you are buying insurance through your workplace, how much are you paying? As socio-economic classes continue to become more disparate, isn’t it our job to find ways to better budget our lives?

The Health Insurance Marketplace opens tomorrow, October 1, and you may quality for some plans that cost half of your data plan for your smart phone. I don’t have a smart phone because I can’t afford it, and since I’m not professional enough to warrant all-day emails, I won’t stretch myself too thin in order pay for it. But for affordable health care, I will. As all 20-somethings in the five boroughs should: in case you need to get tested for STIs, in case you need to get a physical for a new job, in case you need to talk to a therapist. Here are some concrete, financial reasons you should also sign up on the Marketplace tomorrow (or before March 31st).

Well, you are required to buy some kind of health insurance. Do you remember all the way back in 2010 when Tea Party Bros were crying Communist? A lot of that was coming from this mandate that all citizens, as of 2014, are required to purchase some kind of health insurance (through the Marketplace, work, or other private provider) or they have to pay a $95 fee (or 1.0% of taxable income, whichever is more). Yeah, alright, $95 for the whole year and not adding another monthly bill is a small price to pay, but it’s set to increase to $325 in 2015, or 2.0%. Again, they’re going to charge you whichever is more. I’m not sure which is going to feel worse: being indignant every year that I’m being charged for doing something that I don’t want to do, or paying an affordable price so I can get tested ever year, like a responsible human being.

Medicaid Expansion + ACA = Very cheap healthcare. Hey, 20-something, do you know what Medicaid is? It’s state-provided healthcare for low-income families and individuals, and the ACA helped cover a lot of gaps in Medicaid coverage. Namely, individuals making 133% of the poverty line are eligible for Medicaid. What the fuck does that mean? That means if you make $15,281.70 a year–or $1,273.48 a month–or less you can get very cheap or free healthcare in NYC. If you make a little more than this, you likely qualify for a lot of the Marketplace plans. In other words, if you live with three or more roommates so your monthly expenses can be near $1,000 a month, you should apply tomorrow.

Your parents’ catastrophe plans are bullshit. Insurance providers love catastrophe plans, because they work on the fearmongering logic of “you never know.” While catastrophe plans will cover three primary visits a year and the already free preventive measures (like HIV screening), you do not get subsidies on your monthly premium. Which means that catastrophe plans in the Marketplace will probably cost you more in the long-run (like the plan mentioned in this DNAInfo piece). Since you already don’t want to end up in the hospital, you’re probably already pretty careful about what happens. On top of that, catastrophe plans are only available to persons under 30. Like, 40-somethings can’t have catastrophes? Catastrophe plans are the used car lemons of the insurance world. Save your parents’ some cash and buy your own insurance and, hey, you might feel more grown up.

Duh, peace of mind is good for you. Oregon experimented with a lottery for their Medicaid expansion two years ago, and it proved to be pretty great for them. It made people go to the doctor more, made people less depressed, and eased financial worries. Which gives you more time and emotional & physical stamina to deal with finding a new job, finishing that record, writing that grant proposal, or asking that girl/guy out.

Follow Ryan Chang on twitter @avantbored.


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