Obamacare targets "Young Invincibles" demographic

(CBS News) LOS ANGELES - In about seven weeks, Americans can start buying health insurance on the new exchanges that will be part of the Affordable Care Act.

"I just paid off my student loans and that was $200 a month," says 26-year-old Jordan Zavaleta. "Now that will be health insurance."
Jordan Zavaleta
CBS News

Thursday, the Obama administration announced $67 million in awards to more than 100 organizations that will help people understand their options.

The key to the success of what the president himself calls "Obamacare" is getting young folks to sign up.

Jordan Zavaleta is what the health care industry calls a "young invincible." He's 26 and has no health insurance, largely because it's expensive to buy on his own and he rarely gets sick.

"In the past couple of years that I've been living on my own, I've seen a doctor once," he said. "I want to play soccer. I want to surf. I want to be active. I want to do all these things that could potentially get me very hurt. And if that happens, I'd like to be covered."

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An estimated 19 million young adults under the age of 34 do not have health insurance, according to Health and Human Services. By 2014, Americans are mandated to have coverage or will have to pay a $95 fine or 1 percent of their income. Many will qualify for subsidized insurance through new health care exchanges created by Obamacare.

Tamika Butler
Tamika Butler
CBS News

"When young people have that option, they get it. They'll get insured," said Tamika Butler, the California director for Young Invincibles, a group helping young adults get coverage.

"When young people are insured, it's going to bring down the cost for everybody because we're relatively healthy," Butler said. "In order to make this law successful, we really need to get everyone insured."

The government's goal is to enroll 7 million Americans in the exchanges by next spring. For the system to work, about 2.7 million of them need to be young adults between the ages 18 and 35. They help offset the costs of older, generally less healthy people, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

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Jordan Zavaleta's insurance through the exchange will cost him less than $200 a month.

"I just paid off my student loans and that was $200 a month," he said. "Now that will be health insurance."

He plans to sign up when enrollment begins on October 1.

  • Ben Tracy

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