COVERAGE: Why Health Reform Matters to Generation Y
President Obama gave a compelling speech this morning to an enthusiastic and predominantly young crowd at the University of Maryland in College Park. "It's about what kind of country you want to be," Obama told them, and "... our history tells us that each and every time we faced a choice between the easy road that leads to slow decline or the hard road that leads to something better, something higher, we take the higher road. That's how Americans are, we refuse to stand still. We always want to move forward."
To help amplify the president's message, the Office of Health Reform at HHS also published a report detailing how health reform can help young adults, Young Americans and Health Insurance Reform: Giving Young Americans the Security and Stability They Need . Young adults make up nearly one-third of the uninsured population, and nearly one in four are paying off medical debt. Frightening statistics -- especially for soon-to-be college graduates who may soon find themselves among the ranks of the uninsured.
In his speech, Obama described health care as "the struggle of this generation," and outlined the many ways health reform will benefit young Americans:
- Young adults will be able to stay on their families' health insurance policies as dependants until the age of 26
- Young adults who are not covered at work will be able to buy quality, affordable coverage fthrough the new health insurance exchange
- Many people will be able to get certain preventive care services for free, and the health care system will invest more in wellness and prevention.
- Small businesses will get a tax credit to help them cover their employees
- Insurance companies will have to limit what young adults would have to pay in out-of-pocket expenses, co-pays, and deductibles.
- There will be limits on how much insurance companies can spend on administrative costs
Young adults have much to gain from proposed reforms, but they will also be asked to contribute their fair share to reform. Shailagh Murray of the Washington Post explains:
A 2008 study by the Urban Institute found that more than 10 million young adults ages 19 to 26 lack health insurance coverage. For many of those people, health-care reform would offer the promise of relatively inexpensive individual policies, which do not exist in many states today.
The trade-off is that young people would no longer be permitted to bet on their good health: All the reform legislation before Congress would require individuals to buy at least minimal coverage.
Young Invincibles -- a term used to describe these young adults who willingly forgo insurance because of their good health -- is also a campaign "committed to making sure young people are heard in the debate about the future of our country." Their site contains hundreds of stories from young adults across the nation explaining why health reform matters to their generation.