(KYTX) - The free ride is almost over for many young people on their parents' health insurance plans. Starting this January, 26-year-olds will have to start paying for their own health insurance or risk a fine that increases the next two years.
Some insurers are worried young people will actually just pay the fine, and they say that's a huge mistake. Although the fine is probably going to be less expensive than a health insurance plan, they say it's just not worth the gamble, because you never know what can happen.
"The young people tend to think, 'I'm invincible, I'm healthy, I don't need insurance.'
Wendy Bratteli with Threlkeld Insurance in Tyler says that's not the right mentality to have when it comes to your health.
"You buy insurance for those unseen catastrophic events. You don't buy insurance because you're healthy and you don't need it."
23-year-old Ayo Mogagi is already on his own health insurance plan.
"My parents taught me to be responsible and take steps by myself. So, I do a lot of things by myself and my health insurance is one of those things."
But, he says he has friends who plan on paying up this January rather than getting themselves insured.
"I just feel something might happen in the future. So, it's better to be prepared for it."
Because the consequences of running up a high medical bill without insurance can be devastating.
"Obviously, it goes on your credit report, it stays there for years." says Bratteli. "Some people may have to file bankruptcy and start over. And, things like that do prevent young people from buying a car, leasing an apartment, purchasing a home..."
- A future many young people don't envision for themselves.
"Protecting yourself and your family from catastrophic events is a sign of maturity and responsibility that most Americans need to accept."
Basically, Bratteli says getting your own health insurance is all part of growing up.
Those who opt out of buying health insurance will face a $95 fine or 1% of their annual income, whichever is higher. The penalties are expected to increase after that over the next two years.