After recently losing her job, Amanda Cuevas said she is not even considering signing up for health insurance under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
“I couldn’t afford it,” the 31-year-old mother said, explaining that her priorities are providing for her children, who are covered under Medicaid. “I am trying to get by.”
Cuevas is not alone. Several people, ages 18-34, known as “the young invincibles,” said last week that signing up for the plan was not a priority while others said they were still thinking about it.
Indeed, the young demographic has become disenchanted with the president’s signature health care law.
According to a fall 2013 Harvard Institute of Politics survey of 2,089 18- to 29-year-olds, conducted from Oct. 30 to Nov. 11, “a solid majority, 56 percent,” disapprove of the Affordable Care Act.
“Less than three-in-ten uninsured Millennials say they will definitely or probably enroll in insurance through an exchange if and when they are eligible,” the survey stated.
Harvard Institute of Politics Polling Director John Della Volpe said in a statement that the results were indicative of young Americans’ low approval of the president and Congress.
“Young Americans hold the president, Congress and the federal government in less esteem almost by the day, and the levels of engagement they are having in politics are also on the decline,” he said.
On his way to the Lake-Sumter State College campus, Jessie Santos said signing up for health insurance was not at the top of his list.
“It is not important to me,” he said. “I have a lot more busy things to do. It is just on the back burner.”
Asked if he worries about getting sick, Santos shook his head, adding that he only gets sick once a year: a non-event for him.
According to healthcare.gov, those who do not sign up for coverage by March 31, 2014, will have to pay $95 per person a year or 1 percent of their gross income. That fee will be increased every year, the website states, amounting to $325 per person beginning in 2015 (or 2 percent of income), followed by $695 per individual in 2016 (or 2.5 percent of income).
Cuevas said she is concerned about the penalty, but said buying health insurance is not practical now.
While Mary Reed, 32, has health insurance, her husband does not.
“He hasn’t bought it yet,” she said, also citing financial difficulties.
The law, which went into effect Jan. 1, angered Reed.
“I don’t feel people should be forced to do it,” she said. “There are urgent care clinics for those (without insurance).”
“What happened to our free rights?” she asked.
As she exited the bus at LSSC, D’Andrea Poole held her 1-year-old daughter, Brooke, closely.
The 19-year-old LSSC sophomore said while she is covered by Medicaid, she said it is important young people sign up for coverage.
But signing up should be easier, she said.
“They need to make the process as simple as possible, especially if they want the younger adults to get involved,” she said.”They need to make it more accessible.”
Poole said friends in her age group are nonchalant about signing up.
“Most of them don’t go to the doctor,” she said. “Even if they do, I am sure it is pretty expensive.”
Cuevas cringes when thinking of the costs of going to a doctor without health insurance.
“When you get sick, if you have to go to the doctor, it costs a fortune,” she said. “You are lucky to pay the bill.”
The Affordable Care Act has already insured 3.1 million young adults who are allowed to stay on their parents’ plans until age 26, according to the White House.
The law also “prohibits insurance companies from denying individuals under 19 years coverage based on pre-existing conditions,” according to specifics on the law.
According to the Associated Press, there are numerous national campaigns from supporters and detractors of the health care law to sway “young invincibles.”
If there are not enough young people signing up for health insurance, it could cause insurance rates to increase dramatically, the AP stated.
Currently, there are “18 million uninsured 19-36 year olds,” according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
This group accounted for “40 percent of the uninsured population under the age of 65,” the Census reported.