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Why My Generation Supports the Health Care Law

Resource type: News

Huffington Post | [ View Original Source (opens in new window) ]

Rory O’Sullivan of the Young Invincibles contributed this piece to the Huffington Post which examined young people’s increasing support of the Affordable Care Act and how it has helped over 2.5 million young Americans get health insurance since its passing. Young Invincibles is currently embarking on a nationwide tour of meetings designed to give a voice to youth to identify ways of reforming the economy and health care called the “Campaign for Young America.”

By Rory O’Sullivan

This week, the Supreme Court heard arguments over the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The legislation’s challengers frequently trotted out examples of healthy young people to show that the law forces individuals to buy insurance who don’t “need” it. But this caricature of our generation ignores reality. That’s why Young Invincibles wrote an amicus brief to ensure that the Supreme Court had the facts. The truth is that if the ACA disappears, so will health insurance for millions of young Americans.

Already, over 2.5 million young people have joined their parents’ insurance plan. In the years ahead, the ACA will vastly expand coverage for millions more uninsured and under-insured young adults. About eight million currently uninsured young Americans will qualify for Medicaid, and another nine million will be eligible for subsidies to help them purchase insurance. Rolling back the health care law would kick millions off their parents’ insurance and eliminate the promise of coverage for millions more.

It’s hard to underestimate the benefits of these reforms. Right now, nearly one in three young Americans lacks health coverage, leading to a variety of problems. Faced with high costs, uninsured young adults often avoid needed care, making them less healthy as a result. And, make no mistake, young people do get sick. Nearly one in six young Americans has a chronic condition and we use emergency rooms more often than anyone else under 75. We need coverage to pay for these contingencies.

Beyond the direct health benefits, the law also improves our generation’s economic outlook. In these already tough times, our broken health care system is another drag on our generation’s progress. It might be a young person with asthma who stays in a bad job for the health insurance or a young entrepreneur who waits on a great business idea because she can’t afford coverage. The high cost of health insurance limits our options. By making coverage more affordable, the ACA’s package of reforms will unleash this generation’s ability to change jobs, move for work, and innovate.

It’s no wonder that a strong majority of young people support reform. Contrary to popular perception, young Americans want health insurance. In our recent poll, less than 5 percent reported choosing to go without coverage. Over two-thirds of uninsured young people explained that they lacked health insurance primarily because they had no affordable options. In fact, when their employers offer health insurance, young people enthusiastically sign up at about the same rates as older Americans.

The fuss about the requiring people to buy insurance is exactly that. For proof, look to Massachusetts. They enacted a coverage requirement but also created more affordable options and set minimum standards from the insurance companies. In response, young people overwhelmingly got covered because they want to afford health care.

The Supreme Court faces a clear choice ahead. On one side is the status quo where millions go without coverage, only to receive care in emergencies and inevitably pass the cost on to everyone else. On the other, is reformed system where coverage is affordable, our nation is healthier, and our generation’s future brighter. We’re confident the Supreme Court will favor our future.

Young Invincibles is an Atlantic grantee.

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Affordable Care Act, health care, Young Invincibles