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"I always tell them to remember that you can’t buy Obamacare in the ambulance on the way to the hospital."
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On Oct. 9 at 7 p.m., The Salt Lake Tribune and KCPW will co-sponsor a town hall meeting on the Affordable Care Act at the Salt Lake City Main Library auditorium, 210 E. 400 South, Salt Lake City. Jennifer Napier-Pearce will moderate a discussion with a panel of experts, who also will address questions.
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Calculating the cost » Because young adults are often still in school, working unpaid internships or underemployed in part-time jobs without benefits, plan costs and subsidies will figure into their insurance decisions, Postolowski said.
To be eligible for a subsidy, consumers must have household incomes between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level and must purchase at least a midlevel "silver" plan, which splits the cost of medical care with enrollees at a 70-30 rate.
Utah is among the states that has not released its plan rates. Advocates say the costs nationwide appear to be lower than many had predicted, particularly for young adults.
"We’ve been encouraged by the rates that have been coming out," Postolowski said. "And a lot of them don’t account for the subsidies for which young people will qualify."
In Utah, UHPP estimates large numbers of young adults — as many as 25,000 in Utah County and 35,000 in Salt Lake County — may qualify, Stevenson said.
Preliminary data from the state Department of Insurance show a Salt Lake County 27-year-old will pay between $162 and $255 a month before the subsidies. In Cache County, monthly costs range from $203 to $269; in Utah County, $209 to $263; in Washington County, $219 to $269; and, in Weber County, $189 to $263.
The Medicaid gap » For young Utahns whose incomes hover at the poverty line or below, the biggest challenge will come if state leaders don’t expand Medicaid.
Under the ACA, states can opt to widen the eligibility rules for the public insurance plan. In states that don’t expand, most working-age adults with incomes under 100 percent of the federal poverty level won’t have access to Medicaid and won’t qualify for subsidies.
Gov. Gary Herbert has said he won’t announce his plans for Medicaid until early 2014.
Should Utah decide to expand Medicaid, an estimated 71,000 uninsured young adults ages 18 to 34 would be eligible, the Young Invincibles data predict.
Those earning above 100 percent of poverty— about 84,000 Utahns in the same age group — could be eligible for subsidies to help them buy private plans through the online insurance marketplace, according to Young Invincibles.
Jonathan Hope isn’t sure how much he and his wife will earn this year. He works on BYU’s campus and is limited to 20 hours each week. Courtney Hope had been working 35 hours a week. But to skirt the upcoming ACA requirement to provide insurance to employees who work more than 30 hours a week, her school district cut the hours of part-time workers, her husband said.
The couple plan to seek out the help of an ACA navigator after Oct. 1.
"I have mixed feelings about the law and being ‘forced’ into doing it. That always leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths," Jonathan Hope said. "Health insurance shouldn’t be a luxury, in my opinion, but I also believe in personal responsibility. If [the cost] for us were about $150 a month or even a little bit more for us to have it, that’s an investment I’m willing to make."
Learn more about the law
Trib Talk: Young Adults and Health Reform
About 30 percent of American young adults don’t have health insurance, a fact that needs to change for Obamacare to work. On Tuesday at 11:30 a.m., Trib Talk guests will discuss the role young people will play in health reform and how to persuade them to sign up for a health plan. To participate, send questions to the hashtag #TribTalk on Twitter or Google+.
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