Affordable Care Act: Young invincibles

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by Jay Crandall

azfamily.com

Posted on September 26, 2013 at 7:15 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 26 at 7:20 PM

PHOENIX -- There are certainly lots of people who need, but can't afford health insurance. And while the Affordable Care Act may end up helping them, there are others who are healthy and simply don’t see the need for health insurance.

Most of those folks are in their late twenties or early thirties, and many of them say the law’s requirement that they buy insurance or face a penalty seems more like a rip-off than a reform.

Whether it's mountain biking through Sedona, wake boarding at Bartlett Lake or skiing in Tahoe, Kelly O'Dea is always on the go. "I take phenomenal care of myself, eating, working out," he says. But despite his focus on fitness and dedication to health, the 33 year old is not a believer in health insurance. "I don't like squandering money on something I'm never going to use," says O'Dea.

Jon Ford with the St. Luke’s Health Initiative says those people fall into a unique category. "We call these people the young invincibles, people who don't think they're going to get sick, people who don't think they need health insurance coverage."

Those so-called young invincibles are professionals who are between 26 and 34 years old and maintain good health. "The opinion going in is I don't need this coverage," says Ford. In fact, when open enrollment begins, O'Dea has no interest, "I don't feel right that I'm being forced to buy something. I don't have to choose."

But once the Affordable Care Act takes effect January 1, 2014 , people like O'Dea who choose not to purchase a plan, will face a penalty.

Here's how the system will work. If you don't buy insurance, you will be required to pay a $95.00 fine, or one percent of your income,whichever is more. That penalty goes up in the second year.

So for  O'Dea, that means a $325 fine; two percent of his taxable income. "The first year I'll have to figure it out. The first year it seems the penalty is the more promising route," he says.

The only reason O'Dea may consider buying insurance is to protect himself against an unexpected or catastrophic event. "If it has the catastrophic at a reasonable rate and it's not too burdensome with where you can't go, what you can't do, what you're covered for and what you're not covered for, but beyond that, no.”

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