Young people key to making health care plan work

Published On: Dec 24 2013 07:50:30 AM CST   Updated On: Sep 27 2013 01:06:03 PM CDT

The government says the goal of this health care law is to make insurance more affordable, while improving minimum coverage standards.

New minimum coverage standards

The new law puts an end to lifetime policy limits.  In the past, your benefits could run out after a certain dollar amount had been paid.  

Children are now allowed to stay on their parents policy until age 26.

Insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.  In fact, there's now a limit to how much those patients can be charged.

Young people are key

The changes come with a price.  And the Kansas Insurance Commissioner says younger healthier people will pay a big portion of the bill.

"Insurance is the law of large numbers and the more people you have in your plan, the more people you have to spread the cost over.  But that only works if you have healthy and sick in that large pool," said Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger.

Praeger says healthy 20 and 30 somethings are the key to making the insurance marketplace work. She calls them the "young invincibles", those who rarely visit a hospital and may prefer to pocket the money rather than spend it on insurance premiums.

Shared burden

The law places a minimum on what young healthy people are charged and a ceiling on what older, sicker folks can pay. It's a 3-to-1 ratio.

For example, a healthy 21-year-old woman might pay $120 a month for basic coverage.  Under the law, a woman who is 64 with chronic medical problems can't be charged more than $360 dollars for the same policy.

Praeger says there is concern those young invincibles will just opt-out and pay a fine.   But she's hopeful they'd rather get some type of coverage than get nothing at all for their money.