More than 63,000 Coloradans have signed up for health coverage under the Colorado Health Exchange since enrollment opened in October.
More than 63,000 Coloradans have signed up for health coverage under the Colorado Health Exchange since enrollment opened in October. Among them are a population of the state's 20-somethings – too old to be covered under their parents' plans, but still working on finding employment with benefits. Craig Smith of Grand Junction, a 27-year-old college student, is among them. "Most people my age kind of think they're invincible and, you know, to some extent my age group is healthier, obviously,” he says. “But my manager at work was diagnosed with cancer and he's only a couple years older than I am. Like, what if that happened to me?" Smith receives $169 a month in a subsidy to offset the cost of his coverage. According to the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, people younger than 30 traditionally have been one of the largest groups of uninsured Americans, because many entry-level jobs don't include health care and their wages can't pay for coverage on their own. Patrick Jones of Denver, also 27, left a job at a software company to pursue a different career. His income qualified him to receive Medicaid under the state's expansion of the program. "I can take my classes online during the day and serve tables at nighttime and pursue a new career without having to worry about health insurance for a year," he says. Both Jones and Smith say that without health coverage, an unexpected serious illness or accident could set them on the path of financial ruin even before starting their careers.