Young People Better Off Financially Without Insurance

January 31, 2014

Six out of seven young adults would be better off financially to forgo health coverage and pay the penalty, say Conor Ryan, a health care analyst, and Chris Holt, the director of health care policy, at the American Action Forum.

The Affordable Care Act makes health insurance more expensive for young adults while simultaneously making it far less risky to go without insurance. Ryan and Holt find that opting out of coverage and paying their own costs out-of-pocket would be the most financially advantageous decision for most young adults.

  • In 2014, 86 percent of young people would be better off opting out. As the penalty rises, that number will drop, down to 66 percent in 2019.
  • By reducing the sample down to only those households who had medical expenditures in 2011, the study determined that 72 percent of those young adult households would be better off opting out of health coverage, with that number dropping to 59 percent in 2019.
  • In a third scenario, which accounted for the inherent value of health insurance, 63 percent of young adults would see a financial advantage from opting out of health insurance, that number dropping to 41 percent in 2019.

By reducing the risks of forgoing insurance while at the same time increasing the cost of health coverage, the Affordable Care Act incentivizes young adults to cover their own health expenses and opt out of insurance.

Source: Conor Ryan and Chris Holt, "To Buy or Not to Buy: Uninsured Young Adults and the Perverse Economic Incentives of the ACA," American Action Forum, January 22, 2014.

 

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