This Saturday is National Youth Enrollment Day, a day of action to educate young adults on the importance of having health insurance. Celebrities like Amy Poehler (above), are helping to get the word out and the Young Invincibles campaign is encouraging people to share the message to friends and networks. Young adults between 19 and 34 have disproportionately high uninsured rates – those 19-29 have the highest rate in the country, representing over a third of the uninsured population. They also tend to be healthier than older adults. (Which doesn’t mean they (we) don’t want and need health insurance!)
Because this group tends to be healthy, there has been a lot of talk about so-called “Young Invincibles” and the way enrollment rates among these young adults may impact the overall success of the Health Insurance Marketplaces. The logic goes that if more healthy, young adults enroll in Marketplace plans, this will subsidize the older and sicker population that enrolls. With too many sick enrollees, experts expect to see higher insurance rates. As of the end of December, about 1/4 of enrollees around the nation were young adults – 26% in New York. Some have questioned whether these numbers are high enough to protect the risk pools, while others have pointed out that many young adults are likely to wait until later in the enrollment period to sign up. There is also controversy about whether “young adults” should really be the focus – in fact, the Commonwealth Fund just released a new report on the subject, arguing that it is the health status of the insured pool, not age, that really makes the difference.
We do know that thousands of New Yorkers between 19 and 35 have already signed up and are benefiting from the new, more affordable options available to them. Take Tamika G., a 26-year-old from Brooklyn who will now pay $135/month for insurance that gives her peace of mind and access to the services she needs. Tamika was eligible for financial assistance in the form of tax credits and cost-saving reductions – these reduced her monthly premium and lowered her other out-of-pocket costs. For many young adults who have struggled to afford insurance in the past, this financial assistance will make the dream of being covered a reality.
Now that she’s insured, Tamika is ready to share the love:
“I’m going to tell my friends as soon as I get home that this is the way to go. You don’t want to break your arm and worry about how you’re going to pay for it.”
Out of all of the attention on young adult enrollment, this is the message that should stand out: Health insurance is for all of us, young adults included. Now that we have our chance to finally have the affordable, quality coverage we deserve, let’s take it – and make sure our friends do, too.
Left: Adora Campis (red hat) with parade participants at the annual Three King’s Day parade in Harlem; Right: Adora and Maryanne Tomazic of Raising Women’s Voices – NY at HCFANY’s Annual Meeting Thursday, January 9.
Guest post: Lois Uttley, Director, MergerWatch Project/Raising Women’s Voices-NY
Adora Campis is a part-time bilingual (English and Spanish) outreach worker for Raising Women’s Voices-NY. She will go pretty much anywhere to find uninsured women and families and tell them about the new health coverage options available through NY State of Health, New York’s Marketplace!
Last Monday, she joined the annual Three King’s Day parade through East Harlem to talk to uninsured people along the route in this neighborhood with many low-income, Spanish-speaking people. (She’s in the red hat in the photo left, above). Later in the week , she spoke at HCFANY’s annual meeting in Albany about why she is so passionate about her work.
Here is her story:
I’m sure you want to know about the faces of the uninsured that I have met in New York City. This much I know. From a homeless person at a soup kitchen starving for medical care, to a degree-holding woman facing loss of coverage and having to pay too much for COBRA – they want and are eager for affordable health care.
The timing is right. The uninsured are diverse and come from all walks of life. Some of them are people in between jobs, others are at jobs that have no health benefits. Some are recent college graduates, others are new citizens. Some have young kids, others are still kids themselves.
Sometimes they are people like me. I am a single mother and raised two children on my own. My son unexpectedly needed health care while he was in college. Luckily he had health insurance. It wasn’t the best, so we still got a $1,000 bill. But there was peace of mind knowing that he was able to get the care he needed.
I didn’t have health insurance though. Last year, I had worked for a couple organizations part-time, but still couldn’t afford to buy health care coverage on my own. Because New York decided to expand Medicaid eligibility this year, I was able to enroll in health insurance through NY State of Health and now am covered.
That’s what I love about going into the community to talk about these new changes. I know it works. It can be scary approaching strangers at community events to talk about health reform, but I’ve found that everyone is very passionate about this. They have personal, sometimes painful stories. But they all end in the fact that this change couldn’t be any more timely. People welcome it!
Tasha Williams, left, of NYC for Action volunteered at the Get Covered New York booth Sunday in Harlem.
Today’s post comes from guest blogger Lois Uttley, of Raising Women’s Voices
Get Covered New York was out in force last weekend at events in upper Manhattan and Brooklyn.
More than 30 volunteers from NYC for Action and Greater NYC for Change neighborhood groups turned out for the final weekend of Harlem Week, a busy street fair. The Get Covered New York booth, located at the corner of 135th and Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard, featured handouts explaining the new coverage options becoming available through the NYS Health Benefits Exchange starting October 1. These handouts include a link to Get Covered New York’s new website, www.getcovered-newyork.org, where consumers can sign up to be notified when enrollment starts.
“It was a wonderful weekend that gave us the opportunity to talk to hundreds of uninsured people,” said Aliza Lederer-Plaskett, Community Organizer for Raising Women’s Voices-NY, who managed logistics for the events with help from Tasha Williams of NYC for Action. Get Covered New York also tabled at Bedford-Stuyvesant Pride, which took place in Brooklyn’s Herbert Von King Park and reached LGBT people.
Nearly 200 people filled out Get Covered New York postcards that will be mailed to them in September explaining how and where they can apply for the new coverage.
HCFANY launched a new campaign today to provide outreach and education to uninsured LGBT New Yorkers around the new health options that will soon be available via the New York State Health Benefit Exchange. While health statistics on LGBT populations are not yet widely collected (something we are pushing to change) experts estimate that 1 in 4 LGBT people in the state are uninsured.
The outreach campaign will be headed up by HCFANY’s LGBT Task Force to help prepare people for the health insurance choices they may need to make once enrollment on the Exchange opens on October 1st.
The campaign was kicked off by a press briefing hosted by the New York State Health Foundation to bring attention to the unique needs of LGBT New Yorkers, illustrate how the Affordable Care Act is working to address them, and to lay out next steps.
- Kellan Baker, Director, LGBT State Exchanges Project, Center for American Progress
- Megan Fisk, Director of Family Services, LGBT Community Services Center of New York
- Mark Hannay, Director, Metro New York Health Care For All Campaign
- Jonathan Lang, Director of Governmental Projects and Community
Development, Empire State Pride Agenda
- Jay Laudato, Executive Director, Callen-Lorde Community Health Center
- David Sandman, Senior Vice President, New York State Health Foundation
- Lois Uttley, Director, Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need
The new coverage options afforded by the ACA will benefit LGBT communities by providing wider access to affordable health care, increased data collection (which will work to inform future policy decisions), and a new ban on discrimination based on HIV status and sex, including gender identity.
The LGBT Task Force has been working with state Exchange officials to make sure that same-sex couples have the same opportunities for affordable health coverage. This includes allowing couples to pool their premium subsidies together to purchase family health plans on the Exchange.
Outreach will start at the June 30 PrideFest in Manhattan, and continue through the summer and fall.