This Salon essay explains why I don’t advise friends to “opt-out”

If you haven’t come across it already, Brian Beutler had a really terrific piece up at Salon yesterday making the case for why young adults ought to buy health insurance. You see, he was shot in 2008. That wasn’t a planned health expense.

My medical bills totaled about $200,000, mostly attributable to major surgery and a 10-day hospital stay. My deductible more than cleared out my bank account, but in the end, my insurer paid almost every other penny, and saved me from bankruptcy or a lifetime of debt. For $200,000 you can buy an Ivy League education, a home, a law degree, a secure retirement or a splenectomy. But there’s no equity, dividend or residual value in a splenectomy.

Go read the whole thing. Seriously.

I’m a twenty-something whose delight in health policy is inanely obvious to anyone who so much as adds me on Facebook (they’re all immensely good sports about it). This means I routinely field questions about insurance from friends and classmates.

If they’re under 26, I urge them to talk to their parents about taking advantage of extended dependent coverage. I explain the way the subsidies work, and that they should probably expect premiums in the vicinity of $100-150 per month—unless they’re unemployed or a student in 2014; then they might qualify for Medicaid. I tell people if they aren’t going to be eligible for subsidies, they should compare plans—particularly catastrophic plans—on and off the exchange. I describe the wrinkle of limited open enrollment. And yes, I highlight the penalty, its weak bite in 2014, and the lax construction of its enforcement mechanism.

But I never advise them not to buy insurance, and Beutler’s essay articulates why better than I ever could.

Adrianna (@onceuponA)

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