As thousands of people in Washington state start shopping on the health insurance exchange, recruiters are taking aim at a key group of people that are needed to make the system work.
They are called the “young invincibles.”
"They think they're at the age where they're invincible, they're healthy, they're having fun,” said Daphne Pie with King County Public Health. She says they think to themselves, “’Why do I have to have health insurance now?’”
At University of Washington's Red Square, King County Public Health and several organizations tried to educate UW students on the new laws and new access to health care.
Under the Affordable Care Act, all Americans are required to have health insurance or pay a penalty. The law allows people to be covered by their parents’ policy until the age of 26, but the Government Accounting Office estimates 1.7 million college students are still uninsured.
Still, getting coverage can be a tough sell to this crowd.
Some twenty-somethings, like Ian Houben, have access to health care through work but decline it, opting to pay the $95 tax penalty.
"I don't want to deal with the deductibles and paying monthly,” said Houben. “I haven't gone to a doctor’s appointment since I've been in high school playing football.”
The problem is young people play a crucial role in health care reform. In order for the federal government to provide for the sick, healthy people who rarely use the system need to pay premiums as well.
"A young person that's healthy and they're paying their premiums is going to be less costly, but they still get the revenue for it,” said Pie. “Whereas an older person, they may have more health issues where it’s going to cost more for the insurance companies. So the insurance companies do have to have the balance.”