Youth key to health care reform's success

Delicate balance is part of challenge

POSTED: 6:35 PM PDT October 30, 2013    UPDATED: 6:04 PM PDT October 31, 2013 
Youth important for health care system
BEND, Ore. -

There is a delicate balance to the new health care system. If there are too many costly, high-risk individuals, the system fails. Youth, most of whom have few health concerns, are crucial to the success of the Affordable Care Act.

Central Oregon Community College is trying to educate students about the program.

"A lot of the students don't have health insurance, and we don't require them to have health insurance," Gordon Prince of COCC Student Life said Wednesday.

COCC is allowing health care consultants to set up a table at the Campus Center and host three workshops to help educate the students and public in general.

"The information that students can get from these workshops and just understanding what resources are out there is hugely important," Prince said.

Without young, healthy people buying insurance, there's not enough money for those people considered high-risk to get affordable insurance.

"The young population is the part of the population that is healthy that will put money into the system and won't be taking it out," said Patrick O'Keefe of Cascade Insurance Center.

Many young people aren't motivated to get insurance for this very reason. Also, Cover Oregon isn't making it easy for young people to get the plan many of them want -- one that will cover emergencies but not non-emergency issues.

"The catastrophic plan that's available fore young people can only be purchased through Cover Oregon. so the group that we need to get in there the most can't until Cover Oregon gets running," O'Keefe said.

But O'Keefe also said there are plenty of reasons for young people to enroll.

"I think conscience is one reason -- it's, 'What's your contribution to society?' And the other reason is more practical,very pragmatic," O'Keefe said.

Practical, as in: You have coverage if you do get sick or injured.