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Why young people need health insurance, too

Based out of Dallas, Texas, Mary McCoy is a writer and social worker for disenfranchised women and children. She's a single mom, lover of Texas barbecue, and a die-hard fan of yoga

Insurance for the young and invincible?

If you're under the age of 30, health insurance may seem like an unnecessary and expensive investment. But contrary to popular belief, it's important for even healthy young people to protect their future with health insurance.
Woman in her 20s at doctor's office

According to the Heritage Foundation, the average 27-year-old American can expect to pay between $142 and $366 per month for health care coverage, depending on location in the U.S. For the same amount of money, a young person could, technically, afford a car payment or a significant portion of their monthly rent. So why would you, as a young person, want to shell out the money for health care insurance? There are more compelling reasons than you might imagine.

Insurance protects you from insane debt

Young people — and even healthy people who aren't so young — likely don't spend much time thinking about medical costs. But if the unthinkable happens in your life, you need to make sure you're covered so you can avoid the consequences of giant and unmanageable debt.

According to the HealthCare.gov, the average cost of a three-day hospital stay is $30,000. If you are uninsured and require an emergency hospital stay for appendicitis, flu complications or an ectopic pregnancy (all of which regularly happen to young people), then you will be responsible for the entire $30,000 charge. Even if you make monthly payments on the total, this huge debt may affect your credit score and prevent you from doing the things you want to do in the future, like own a house or a car. Alternatively, an insured young person in the same scenario would likely only owe the hospital a deductible.

Young people aren't so invincible

It's time to challenge the assumption that young people are mostly healthy and need little medical treatment. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services calls this assumption a "myth," and report that one in six young adults battles a chronic illness like cancer, diabetes or asthma. All of these conditions require ongoing medical treatment to prevent serious complications and even death. This ongoing treatment, in turn, can cost a hefty sum that may ruin an uninsured person's finances.

Even if you're healthy now, the fact is that everyone is at risk for developing an illness. You can play the odds if you'd like, but it's important to remember that your finances and health are on the line. Or you can protect yourself from the physical and financial costs of a chronic illness by purchasing insurance coverage.

Pregnancy and childbirth is likely in your future

Finally, if you're a woman reading this, it's probably just a matter of time before you become a mother. The National Organization for Women reports that 81 percent of women are mothers by the time they reach their 40s, and the average age for first-time childbirth is about 25. Essentially, this means that an awful lot of young women get pregnant and have babies every year. And even if you're trying to avoid pregnancy, about half of the babies born in the U.S. are still "accidents."

As a young woman, it's essential that you have health care coverage in the event you become pregnant and have a baby. The average cost of vaginal delivery in the U.S. is $18,000, and $27,000 for a C-section. This doesn't even account for the costs of prenatal care. You need insurance to mitigate these costs and prevent outrageous debt.

If you're certain that a baby isn't in your future, healthcare insurance can reduce the costs of effective contraception like birth control pills, patches and IUDs to $0 out of pocket. Insurance is just a smart move — baby or not — for any young woman during her peak years of fertility.

Certainly, the monthly cost of health care insurance can add up quickly over the course of the year. But as a young person, it's vital that you safeguard your future and your health by purchasing coverage. Young people aren't immune to health problems and conditions, and insurance coverage can give you peace of mind about your finances and health.

More on health and wellness

10 Questions to ask about your child's health
When your child breaks his arm
5 Ways to love yourself a helluva lot more

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