Whether it is a sense of youthful invincibility or the cost of health care premiums and service charges, overwhelmingly, African-American millennials remain without health insurance; a reality that baffles health officials, especially in the wake of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Health Care platform.

According to statistics from a recent Harris Poll survey, 1 in 5 adults ages 18 to 36 said they cannot afford routine health-care expenses, with an additional 26 percent reporting they can afford routine health-care costs, but with difficulty.

Black Millennials (Stock Photo)

Black Millennials (Stock Photo)

Even as Obama’s administration moves to target millennials more aggressively to ensure they received quality and affordable health care services, some young Americans, like Washington, D.C. resident Keisha Marie Lorton, are simply out of reach. “It comes down to a choice between living well by spending an extra $200 a month on health insurance, or living right, by using that money to pay high rent, utilities, and transportation costs, and setting aside $25 a month for a gym membership,” Lorton told the AFRO. “I earn too much to get the real subsidy that would make it affordable, so I have to do without it.”

A recent White House-Health and Human Services panel discussion, “Millennial Enrollment Trends,” further solidified Lorton’s position as common among young people, many of whom own small businesses, work as non-insured contractors, or whose hourly employment does not allow for extra money in their budgets for monthly fees.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell told attendees of the panel that young adults were among the highest uninsured before the Affordable Care Act, but were still more likely than any other population to lack coverage. “Young adults have seen the largest drops in uninsured rates of any age group, yet are still more likely to be uninsured than older adults,” Burwell said during a panel discussion on increasing Millennial participation in the Affordable Care Act. “Getting covered would protect them from catastrophic costs if they get in an accident, or contract a serious illness. Coverage is an investment in their future, a down payment for a healthy and productive life.”

The Harris Poll found that instead of seeking immediate care from a physician or dentist, millennials reported using home remedies or over-the-counter medications, or skipped, delayed, or stopped receiving care to defray costs. They also noted that even premiums as little as $100 became taxing to pay for many millennial populations.

“If you’re generally healthy, you don’t need to pay some health insurance company thousands a year just for access in case you need it,” Ward 7 resident Jamal Harvey told the AFRO. “It’s like betting against yourself. There is always some friend or relative who didn’t take all of their medication, so if you need a pill, you’ve got one or two. If all else fails, you call your mom, and she has a home remedy that always works.”

Harvey said the increased cost of basic necessities, when factored in with student loan debt and child support, make health insurance a luxury many of the District’s African-American millennials, cannot afford. “If you’re poor Medicaid covers you for free, but if you are among the young people just entering the job market, you catch hell trying to pay for health insurance,” Harvey said. “And when you end up with an out-of-pocket dental bill for more than $3,500 for a few fillings, it’s hard to find the benefit of health coverage.”