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Reaching the Young Invincibles

Young adults are a demographic of particular interest to insurers and policymakers amid the expansion of insurance coverage poised to occur under the Affordable Care Act. Their relative good health and low health care costs are seen as essential to balancing the risk insurers must incur as they take on older, less healthy enrollees. Yet young adults are also of concern because of a sense that they might forgo purchasing coverage because they fail to see a need for it. However, Amy Lim, deputy policy and organizing director with the advocacy group Young Invincibles, painted an optimistic picture of this demographic when speaking at AHIP’s Exchange Conference tied to Institute 2013. “When health care is available and it’s covered, people want it,” she said, citing the massive expansion of coverage among young adults who were enabled by the Affordable Care Act to gain coverage through their parents’ policies and young adults’ utilization of services such as mental health care. The key, she said, is in how young adults are approached. She outlined some points for health plans to consider: Education: Lim, and nearly every other person who spoke at the conference, emphasized the importance of bridging what she called “the awareness gap.” Many young adults lack understanding of the law, data show. Language: Those targeting young adults need to speak the right language, replacing difficult-to-decipher terms such as “exchange” with more readily accessible language (“marketplace”), and leaving out “family” and other words that might tell a young adult: This isn’t relevant to my life. Motivation: Lim said messages that will speak to young adults who might be inclined to forgo obtaining coverage include discussion of the money-saving and long-term financial security benefits of coverage, and a reminder that “it’s the law.”