Editorial: Stand up for your health care

By The Beacon | April 3, 2012 9:00pm

(The Beacon)


After two years of lawsuits, President Obama's Affordable Care Act is now in the hands of the Supreme Court and young adults are at risk of losing health care coverage under their parents' insurance plans.

Two-thirds of Americans want the Supreme Court to overturn some or all of the reform bill, according to a poll by The New York Times and CBS News. However, aspects of the law have attracted widespread support. Sixty-eight percent of Americans approved the provision permitting young adults to remain on their parents' insurance policies.

If the Supreme Court decides the law is unconstitutional, Congress must salvage the provision allowing young adults to remain on their parents' insurance.

It is crucial that the government maintains young adults' ability to stay on their parents' health care insurance following graduation because many students are unable to secure a job with good health care benefits in this difficult economy.

Why change a system that is not only beneficial to 20-somethings, but also working?

The Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and Treasury estimate there are about 6.6 million uninsured young adults between the ages of 19 and 26, and another 2.7 million who have health insurance through individual policies.

The provision could reduce the uninsured by 1.2 million people.

In 2011, a study by the Commonwealth Fund projected the provision would cover about 650,000 of the uninsured young adults and another 550,000 who already have individual coverage, but would likely switch to a more affordable and comprehensive coverage under their parents' plan.

The study projected the cost for adding more people to insurance plans would be minimal. It estimates the impact on family coverage insurance premiums will equal an annual increase of less than one percent, which generally will be shared by employees and employers.

If Congress refuses to keep the legislation that allows students to be covered by their parents' plans, at least some form of a grace period should be granted to allow young adults to become financially stable. Without a transition period, the number of those uninsured will undoubtedly rise, which causes increased costs to taxpayers.

Many new graduates are also stacked with debt. Adding the high price of health care is another financial burden that many graduates can't afford to take on. Between paying for health care and paying off student loans, most students will choose the latter. Taxpayers could then be paying for an increase in emergency room visits for minor health problems turned serious.

The mandate permitting young adults to remain on their parents' insurance plans will have to be passed once again by Congress, if the Affordable Care Act is dropped. Thus, students should stand up for their right to health care and urge Congress to pass the bill, if necessary.

University students can get involved in the health care conversation by writing to Oregon Senators and Congressional Representives.