A Guide to Talking About Health Insurance with Your Millennial Kids

For a young adult, taking advice from a parent might make them feel like a little kid. So convincing them to buy health insurance might be about as successful an endeavor as explaining the virtues of broccoli to a three-year-old.

Don’t despair – you can do this. Here are some easy ways to talk to your young adult children. They may be too old to be covered by your health insurance (26+) but still young enough to think they’re “invincible” and don’t need it.

Ease into the conversation with humor. Share this hilarious video from Get Covered Illinois. It advertises the satirical “Luck Health Plan”. With website claims touting “No Monthly Premiums: Followed by Crippling Debt for Life” this viral smash will make them laugh and hopefully, make them start thinking about getting coverage.

Show them the money. Do your kids think insurance will completely break their budget? Show them a realistic quote of what their monthly premium costs would be using our online tools. In many cases, it’s less than a car payment. Prepare for the conversation armed with true costs and they might be more inclined to listen up.

Outline the risks and costs of going without. This is really part two of the money talk, but it’s coming at it from a different angle. Your kids are likely in the prime of their life and healthy. “I’m fine. What could go wrong?” they’ll ask when you bring up health insurance. Here’s what to say:

  • Bring up bankruptcy. Think premiums are expensive? Ruining your financial future is far more devastating. Medical expenses account for the biggest cause of bankruptcies in the United States, representing 62 percent of all personal bankruptcy cases, according to a study by Harvard researchers.
  • Bring up fees. Pay for health insurance, or pay up anyway. The fees for not having health insurance in 2015 will be much steeper than this year. Let your kids know that not signing up will cost them two percent of their yearly household income or $325, whichever is higher. Wouldn’t they rather get something for that money, like health insurance?
  • Bring up medical bills and debt. According to the Health Care Costs Institute, health care spending for an average young adult is $2,168. In a Commonwealth Fund survey, half of uninsured young adults reported problems paying medical bills or said they were paying off medical debt. Paying for a year of coverage may be a lot more affordable than one unexpected emergency room visit.
  • Bring up emergency services. In 2011, 25 percent  of uninsured young adults visited an emergency room.  The average cost for a trip to the ER is $1,233 – 40% higher than the average American rent. If your kids think emergency medical services are only needed by older people, ask them how much of that bill they would like to pay.
  • Bring up what they’ll get. After you’ve potentially frightened them with talk of bankruptcy, fees, and life-threatening emergencies, bring up the healthy benefits they’ll receive when they sign up. Under the ACA, even the most affordable plans cover preventive services and yearly check-ups, which could detect conditions early, potentially avoiding more costly treatments if flagged at an advanced stage.

Use peer pressure. If you know family members, friends, or co-workers who are the same age as your child, ask them about their insurance situation. Knowing their motivations for buying might give you some insight into how to convince your offspring that insurance is a wise investment. If it wouldn’t overstep any bounds or weird out your millennial, have this person reach out. Sometimes a referral from a peer is valued more highly than from dear old mom or dad. Accept this and use it to your advantage.

Go catastrophic. If their budget is extremely tight or if they make too much to qualify for a subsidy and they’re still not finding a plan that works for them, a catastrophic plan might be the way to go. People under 30 are eligible to purchase one of these plans, which generally require you to pay all of your medical costs upfront with a very high deductible. However, monthly premiums tend to be lower than a comprehensive plan and can offer low-cost protection against worst-case accidents or illness.

Share the love and/or guilt. This is the grown-up way to say “because I said so.” Forget the monetary aspects and consequences of going without insurance. Let your kids know the most important reason they should get covered is because you love them and want them to be around for a long time. And you’re their mother (or father). Period.

Just as you know your children as only a parent does, you also know which approach will work best in convincing them to take the health insurance plunge. If you use any of these techniques, tell us how it goes!

 

Photo credit: Matt Batchelor

 

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