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One More Reason For Young People to Get Covered: Preventive Care Could Save Your Life

by: Katie Singh

Thu Dec 19, 2013 at 09:00 AM CST

Read All "12 Days of Enrollmas" posts here.

When we talk about reasons for young people to get health insurance, we mostly hear how important it is to be prepared in case of emergency, and not much else. Emergencies are important, but there's also more for us young and healthy people to consider.

That's because as much as we hate to admit it, we won't be young and healthy forever.

There's another important reason to enroll in health insurance: free preventive care. That's right, under the Affordable Care Act, most preventive services are now completely completely covered by insurance, totally free of co-pay.

This is great news for young people. Find out why after the jump.

Young people may often have the misconception that regular visits to the doctor aren't helpful for people their age, unless they're already sick. That couldn't be further from the truth. Doctors don't just treat you when you're sick, they can also help keep you healthy. That's why an annual preventive visit really does make a difference.

Consider the following scenario. As a young person, you work long hours, don't always get enough sleep or exercise, and probably eat a bit more junk food than you should. That will eventually catch up to you. You avoid going to the doctor throughout your twenties and thirties, because you feel fine. But as you get older, you start to notice you're often short of breath, your heart is racing, and you've got chest pain. You go to the doctor and find out that you've got heart disease, and it's already pretty advanced.

If you'd been using preventive care, on the other hand, the scenario would be quite different. You sign up for health insurance and start using those annual checkups that are now covered (they're completely free, after all). Your blood pressure gets checked regularly. You're able to know as soon as your blood pressure is elevated. Thus, you can start to change your diet and exercise habits before your blood pressure gets too high, preventing more advanced heart disease from developing.

The scenario's not too far-fetched. 30 percent of Americans over the age of 20 have hypertension, and half will get it by the time they are 65. Blood pressure screening is one of the preventive services covered by the ACA for all adults. Early screening has been found to be highly effective at preventing disease and cost-effective as well.

Free preventive care is important for young people. It means that we have the tools at our disposal to take care of ourselves and live longer, healthier lives. Preventive screenings often lead to early detection of serious conditions that save lives. Moreover, the preventive services provided by the ACA will save money in the long term. The services covered by the ACA have been shown to have a high value for their cost--they yield the best health outcomes per dollar spent. If 90 percent of Americans started to use these preventive services, they'd save a total of $3.7 billion dollars. Preventive care is an investment in health that will save both money and lives over time.

The bottom line is this: young people need to get covered. If you haven't got insurance, the deadline to purchase a plan that will have you covered by January 1 is just a few short days away on December 23. Invest in your health now, so you won't have to pay the price later in life.

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Do not republish without express written permission.

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