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May 30, 2006

One Strike and You're Out

A piece I just did on why it so many 19-year-olds lack health care.

May 30, 2006 | Permalink

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young people should get catastrophic coverage instead of regular health insurance.

Cat coverage costs much less, sometimes only $25 per month.

Of course hte deductible is high, around 2-3k. And you have to pay out of pocket for doctors visits. But young people generally dont need the services of a doc that often anyways.

Posted by: joe blow | May 30, 2006 6:10:29 PM

Fine post, and the audience for it sure needs to take it seriously. Anyone with any income needs to find a way to get some kind of insurance. Bankruptcy is no longer an out for most people with medical debt.

Did your roomie get an estimate of what the medical bills is going to be to fix his leg? My guess: $5-7000, assuming only a day or two in the hospital and no joint replacement. Checkups may be expensive too.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | May 30, 2006 6:15:56 PM

Ezra, I think you meant "prenatal care" instead of "neonatal care"-- both are necessary, but one is for pregnant women (the demographic you're writing about) and one is for newborns.

My anecdote: I was uninsured for just over four months after finishing college (my retail job had coverage, but this was back in the days of 90-day eligibility), and one week after starting work I managed to spill a pot full of boiling pasta down my jeans-clad leg, sending me to the ER for Demerol & debriding, in that order (plus several residents who wandered in, lifted up the cold pack they'd slapped on me, and going "ooh, that's gotta hurt"). This was also before instant authorizations, so I went ahead & presented my invalid insurance card at the ER & paid the bill later; I suspect that doing so kept the bill to the $300 or so I ended up paying instead of the undiscounted rates the uninsured are usually charged. Now, of course, they'd know I was uninsured within seconds, would give me hell about stretching the payments out, & the cost would be well over a thousand bucks.

Posted by: latts | May 30, 2006 6:34:18 PM

A genuine question: why can't (or don't) colleges negotiate plans?

Posted by: nick s | May 30, 2006 7:19:21 PM

to joe blow:

Catastrophic insurance is not really the best solution for young adults, although it is certainly better than nothing. Traumatic accidents are the leading cause of death and disability until you hit 35, when medical problems start taking their toll. Ironically, traumas are the most expensive care type second only to chronic illness.

Any chance you get, buy into health insurance!!

Posted by: emtp6811 | May 30, 2006 7:40:53 PM

I don't know about $25 per month for catastrophic coverage, but it is cheaper; it's what I have, as a temp without employer-provided insurance. Mine's around $80/month, with a $1K deductible & a $4K out-of-pocket limit. However, while it will keep you from going bankrupt if you get in a bad car accident or something, it strongly discourages non-emergency and preventative care. You might think twice about getting that suspicious mole checked out if you have to pay $300 for the privilege, for example. It is better than nothing, but we shouldn't let that be an excuse to avoid providing more complete coverage.

Posted by: Matt F | May 30, 2006 11:39:40 PM

Colleges generally do negotiate plans, at least the big ones.

Posted by: Ezra | May 31, 2006 2:48:34 PM

A la latts, my anecdote for what it's worth: broke my neck in a surfing accident few years back when I was 23. Full coverage through University (graduate student) health plan. I paid a grand total of $50 for part of an ambulance ride from one hospital to another- out of a bill of $40K for the surgery and two day stay.

Needless to say, I shudder at the thought of a similar accident without insurance ... and especially how easily I could have been in a different situation where this was the case.

Keep up all the great healthcare writing, Ezra. We certainly need all we can get- and maybe, just maybe, this problem can be remedied in our lifetimes.

Posted by: kevin | May 31, 2006 4:49:26 PM

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