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July 27, 2013 1:04 PM Why My Fellow Broke Young Men Will Sign Up for Obamacare

By Ryan Cooper


Who doesn’t want to a trip to the emergency room to end in financial ruin? This guy.

A couple days ago the news broke that Republicans are making a coordinated effort to convince uninsured people not to use the Obamacare exchanges to get insurance:

With the Obama administration poised for a huge public education campaign on healthcare reform, Republicans and their allies are mobilizing a counter-offensive including town hall meetings, protests and media promotions to dissuade uninsured Americans from obtaining health coverage.

Now, set aside how frankly despicable it is to try and trick people into not getting what might be lifesaving insurance coverage. I’m the target demographic for this duplicitous cruelty, and it’s not going to stack up against the lived reality of being uninsured. Here’s why.

Not very long ago, I was uninsured and living basically hand-to-mouth. I had almost no savings, lived in a crummy basement with mold in the carpets that would turn my feet black if I walked around without my shoes on. I ate a lot of rice and beans and walked whenever I couldn’t take the bus or the Metro.

Eventually I picked up some insurance, but it was private market stuff. I’m a healthy young man with no chronic conditions, so it was dirt cheap (about $60 a month as I recall) but the deductible was something like 5 times my net worth and the copays were colossal. I joked grimly that I had picked up Bankruptcy Brand™ health insurance where you just fill out your Chapter 7 forms on the way to the hospital.

Living like that sucks, especially with the knowledge that the insurance company would likely fight hammer and tong to avoid paying up if I had gotten sick. Being poor is bad enough without the ever-present knowledge that a single busted ankle or case of appendicitis would completely derail my life. I’ll tell you it was a load off my back when I finally got a real job that came with decent insurance. It seriously improved my quality of life.

Furthermore, there’s the future to think about. My dad got adult-onset Type 1 diabetes (the bad kind) and it’s unclear whether he might have passed that on or when it might crop up. Paying into a system that ensures I don’t fall through the cracks if I get something bad before I turn 65 is a bargain. That coupled with the subsidies to ensure I can afford coverage even if I’m strapped for cash makes it an easy decision.

Young guys can be pretty dumb, but this is such a no-brainer there’s no way these FreedomWorks toads will be able to talk significant numbers of us into avoiding such an obvious gimme.

As I mentioned, right now I’ve got insurance through my job. But likely as not I’ll be moving on at some point in the next year or so, and it may be that my next employer won’t offer insurance (which is probably the way things are going). If that is the case, I’ll boot up the exchange and plonk down my money without a second thought, and I think my fellow dudes will too.

Image credit - Shutterstock

Ryan Cooper is a National Correspondent at The Week, and a former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @ryanlcooper

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