Thanks to the media, the term Young Invincibles has taken root in the American zeitgeist, and some people in that demographic may actually believe they are young enough and healthy enough to truly be invincible.
But guess what – you are not.
Case in point: a 28-year old Young Invincible named Kevin Ogar. Kevin was participating in an amateur weightlifting competition at his Costa Mesa, California gym when a freak barbell mishap left him severely injured and paralyzed from the waist down. Even though he lived an active lifestyle, Kevin doesn’t have health insurance, so he now has to count on the kindness of strangers to fund his massive medical bills and what will be a long, costly rehabilitation. Kevin is lucky – through a massive public donation drive, his friends have raised about $285,000 so far for his recovery.
Would you be able to do the same?
And the risk isn’t confined to competitive sports. Take the case of my 16-year old son, Max. Technically, Max is not yet in the Young Invincibles demographic. But he does something that a lot of healthy males in the YI demo do: he likes to shoot hoops at our health club. After all, exercise helps you stay healthy, right? That’s why they call it a health club.
One rebound later, we were being shuffled from his pediatrician’s office to the X-ray room to an orthopedic specialist and to the room where they sell you crutches and orthopedic boots. It was only a badly sprained ankle. But I was still out around $240. Had we not had good, reliable health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, the price tag would’ve been much higher.
One thing we know about Young Invincibles – they are active. Most do some form of exercise, and many do it often. From 1990-2007, over 970,000 Americans were injured in weight training accidents. And according to data collected by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, some 50,000 people land in the ER every year thanks to workout-related injuries that span from dropping weights on their feet to flying off treadmills. Especially flying off treadmills.
Even if you don’t exercise, you drive, you ride motorcycles, or you cross streets; you have tonsils that can burst and faces that can crash through a sliding glass door. Even if you are the most cautious person in the world, you have to eat, and no one is immune to food poisoning (especially if you enjoy sushi).
No matter what the partisan pundits on FOX News or talk radio may tell you, no one lives in a health bubble. Anyone can get sick or injured. If you don’t carry health insurance just because you don’t like “Obamacare,” you are playing roulette with your financial future. Sure, you can always go to an emergency room, and that may get you through the night. But what happens the next day, and the next week, month and year?
Emergency rooms don’t do spinal surgery and don’t provide lengthy physical rehabilitation. Ask Kevin Ogar.
So if you think you are making a wise financial decision by putting off signing up for your ACA exchange, you are sadly mistaken. You are betting everything you own on red 22.
Red 22 may come up. But do you really want to bet your entire future on it?