By Jessica Adair
On Saturday, 2,500 people gathered at a park in downtown Houston to enjoy the outdoors ahead of the salty, sweaty heat that creeps up from the Gulf of Mexico come spring – and to take advantage of a major opportunity that presented itself, alongside Zumba classes, food trucks and prizes: affordable health care.
You read that right. In the middle of this outdoor fiesta, young Houstonians learned about low-cost insurance. As a preview to National Youth Enrollment Day – the biggest day of enrollment activities this year, organized by dozens of community organizations for Millennials – health care advocates mobilized young Texans to show up and sign up.
This outside-of-the-box effort to help young people get covered is being emulated nationwide this week at approximately 200 events across the country – and we expect every event will pay off.
Already, the data shows grassroots efforts to date are yielding good results. Young adults are already enrolling at a higher rate than they were at this point in Open Enrollment last year; 26% of this year’s enrollees are between the ages of 18 and 34. That number is likely to rise. During last year’s Open Enrollment period, many young adults waited until the last minute to sign up for coverage.
For young people, who may be shopping for health insurance for the first time, the health insurance sign-up process can seem daunting and expensive. But, nearly 90% of enrollees are eligible for financial assistance when they sign up for coverage through the marketplace. This is good news – and something to celebrate.
So that’s what we’re doing this week – celebrating, and inviting fellow Millennials nationwide to join us for events featuring entertainment and enrollment help.
Whether it’s Zumba in Houston, a concert in Philadelphia, a poetry slam in Chicago or enrollment at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, we’re meeting young people where they are in order to help them learn about health insurance.
Though young people did get covered in high numbers during last year’s Open Enrollment period, nearly 1 in 5 young adults still lack health insurance. In 2013, the year before the Health Insurance Marketplace opened up, 3 out of every 5 personal bankruptcies were due to medical debt.
For young people who haven’t had the opportunity to accrue years’ worth of savings, one accident could wipe out their entire bank account.
The National Youth Enrollment Day fun doesn’t stop on the ground. We’re hosting a variety of events online to get the word out about health insurance. For example, join Young Invincibles on Instagram for health care trivia on Thursday! Check out #YoEnroll on Instagram and Twitter to see live updates of events across the nation.
Ready to see what all the fun is about? Go to nationalyouthenrollmentday.org to find an event near you!