You Don't Have to Be Lucky

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The first round of enrollment for the Affordable Care Act has closed and by many measures it has been a success. Eight million people have signed up for private health insurance and of those, 3 million are young adults, the so-called 'Young Invincibles'. The numbers are encouraging, but according to the 2010 census there are roughly 60 million people between 18 and 34 and I can't imagine all the rest have health insurance through their parent or their job. So what are they waiting for?

Every time I hear the words "young invincible," I know they are meant to refer to someone like me. But I have never thought of myself that way; it's just not in my character. I am always planning ahead, a long-time subscriber to the idea that it is much better to be safe than sorry.

But the real reason I don't see myself as a young invincible is that I know I'm not. On the surface it would seem I fit the bill: I'm 25, I eat well, exercise regularly and have no pre-existing conditions -- besides bad luck. As a child, I was hospitalized for an infection and thankfully recovered completely. Ten years later I was back at the hospital for what may or may not have been Rocky Mountain spotted fever. I've had my gall bladder and an abnormal mole removed, and just last summer I was back in the hospital with an infection that surely would have killed me without medical intervention. I can't even count how many times a doctor has told me something I present with is rare.

But even with all this bad luck, I feel lucky. I've always had coverage from my job or my parent . Now with the Affordable Care Act, I don't have to be lucky to have health care, for whatever strange circumstance may find me.

Open Enrollment for private insurance will resume in November. So to all the "young invincibles" still uninsured out there, maybe you are, for the purposes of buying health care, pretty invincible, but maybe not. I, for one, don't plan to rely on luck to keep me healthy.


With a Perspective, I'm Emily Bernstein.