Insurance for ‘young invincibles’

Freshman Emma Hancock says young people are still susceptible to injury and illness.

Freshman Emma Hancock says young people are still susceptible to injury and illness.


Most fans waiting in line at Key Arena for Friday’s Justin Timberlake concert were probably thinking more about suits and ties than copays.

But representatives from the Washington Health Exchange set up a booth at the concert in hopes that young fans of the pop icon would stop by for information on health insurance.

Young adults (those ages 18 to 34) make up about half of the uninsured population in Washington. They also account for only 20 percent of those who have signed up for insurance through the state exchange.

So state officials are taking unconventional steps to get these “young invincibles” — those who think they’re too healthy for insurance — to sign up for coverage.

But the attempt to get young adults to sign up for health insurance doesn’t stop with Justin Timberlake. The health exchange has teamed up with concert organizer Live Nation to give away Sasquatch! Music Festival tickets on Facebook.

“You have to go where they are, and we know music is very important to this particular audience,” said Michael Marchland, a spokesman for the state exchange, in an interview with KUOW, one of Seattle’s NPR affiliates.

Nationally, one out of every four people signed up for health insurance is a young adult. In Washington, only one out of every five people signed up for health insurance is a young adult.

Janet Bester-Meredith is an associate professor of biology. She said young people have to sign up for coverage for the new healthcare system to work.

“The healthcare model is built so that a certain number of young people sign up,” Bester-Meredith said. “It could be very problematic if only unhealthy people sign up.”
Bester-Meredith said young people should sign up for insurance because they aren’t truly invincible.

And those Sasquatch! tickets? Well that’s just a bonus, she said.

“Anybody can get in a car accident or die of strep throat,” Bester-Meredith said. “You just never know.”

Senior Calla Natzke has health insurance but said she’d have to be persuaded by more than concert tickets when deciding which plan to purchase.

“I personally would have to do a lot more research before making any decisions,” Natzke said.

“You don’t want to buy the cheapest plan out there just because it’s a good deal,” she said.

Freshman Emma Hancock is a pre-nursing major and is able to stay on her parents’ health plan until she’s 26, like many young people.

She thinks the state’s marketing tactics are a good way to reach young people but hopes people will do enough research before picking a plan.

“A lot of young people are very naïve,” Hancock said. “They assume bad things won’t happen — and they do. They’re not invincible.”

This article was posted in the section News.