Wednesday, May 26th, 2010 - 7:54
Wednesday, May 26, 2010 - 07:51
The new health reform law will affect young adults in numerous ways. The demographic may also prove to be an informative test of the effectiveness of the requirement to buy insurance.
A good story
in Tuesday's New York Times dissects the new health reform law into what it means for young adults (ages 19-29), a group that makes up about a third of the nation’s uninsured population of 46 million. My generation has often been invoked in the march toward health reform, either as another compelling reason health insurance should be made more affordable, or conversely, as an argument that the uninsured problem isn’t as bad as the numbers would suggest. Young people, most of them healthy, choose not to purchase health insurance because they don’t want or need it – not because they can’t afford it, that line of argument suggests.
As the Times story points out, multiple provisions in the new health law attempt to provide young adults with greater access to insurance:
- A well-publicized element of the health law enables young adults to be covered under a parent’s insurance policy through the age of 25, starting in late September.
- More than half of the young adults currently uninsured will be eligible for coverage under the expanded Medicaid portion of the health law because many young adults make little money.
- Like others in the individual market, young adults will have the opportunity to purchase policies at discount rates through new insurance exchanges.
Of course, like all Americans, young adults will be required to have health coverage beginning in 2014, or face a penalty. But young adults, as a group, may demonstrate most clearly for policymakers how well –or not – the individual mandate is working. Will young people decide that paying the penalty is a better deal than purchasing insurance? Or will young adults buy insurance out of a sense of obligation that wasn’t there before? Getting the young and relatively healthy into the insurance pool is one of the changes supporters of the new law say will drive down overall insurance costs.
These issues remind me of what former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle told us about the health reform law’s impact on young adults for an earlier post
on this blog: “I think that it’s probably going to affect your generation more than just about any other for a lot of reasons. You’re going to be the first generation affected by a lot of the legislation in much more of a meaningful way than I am.”