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A million votes for Obamacare

By Jay MacDonald · Bankrate.com
Friday, September 23, 2011
Posted: 9 am ET

One million more young adults are covered by health insurance today than last year, thanks to President Obama's health care reform package.

While the sputtering economy has caused an alarming number of Americans to drop their health coverage, a new Gallup poll found one bright spot: the number of adults ages 18 to 25 without health insurance dropped from 28 percent last fall to 24.2 percent in the second quarter of this year, roughly equivalent to 1 million young adults.

One popular and relatively low-cost feature of the Affordable Care Act allows adult children to remain on their parent's health insurance until they turn 26, even if they're married, not living at home and not financially dependent on Mom and Dad. Prior to health care reform, many employer-based health insurance plans would lop off the kids at age 19, although some made exceptions for full-time college students.

The extended coverage became effective for health plans beginning on or after Sept. 23, 2010. Many employer-based plans began implementing it on Jan. 1.

And it could not have come at a better time for frustrated college graduates facing a discouraging job market. Even those who manage to land a fulltime position often find that their employer has dropped health insurance or that the cost is still beyond their means.

If the forces fighting to overturn health care reform prevail, many of these 1 million young people will be battling for a foothold on the American dream without the benefit of health insurance.

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14 Comments
Jay MacDonald
November 14, 2011 at 8:08 pm

No, but it can force them to compete for 30 million new customers, potentially lowering our premiums. Left to the free market, health care costs will sink this economy.

Jay MacDonald
November 14, 2011 at 8:02 pm

Hi, Patch: I think you get right to the crux of this issue, which is that health care reform will not succeed unless it can effectively bring health care costs in this country under control. That's why they made a point to call it the Affordable Care Act. Since we are unable in a free market system to contain the skyrocketing costs of health care directly, i.e. by controlling what health care providers charge for their services, President Obama has wisely chosen to use the checks and balances already in place at the state level to bring the costs of health care down. It won't happen overnight. Will it raise our rates initially? Probably. But the goal is that, by requiring all Americans to jump in the pool, the insurers will have a greater number of healthy participants to spread the costs of paying benefits to sick members. The competition for these new 30 million uninsured should exert downward pressure on health insurance premiums. Remember, the insurance companies will have to play ball to remain in the state exchanges, which should further discourage outrageous premium hikes. The reason we're seeing them right now, imho, is the health insurers are proactively feathering their nests until the new landscape is established, much as we're seeing the banks do just now. In my view, if you compare the positives (universal coverage, competitive playing field) against the unsustainable increases in health and drug costs that the free market brought us, health care reform makes sense on both a human and financial level. I'm cautiously optimistic that the Supreme Court will support the greater benefit to society as well.

Patch
November 12, 2011 at 5:29 pm

Did you ever think about the millions of us that are now under-insured or un-insured because our premiums doubled or tripled in order to pay for the program??? What about those of us that have to pay the bill for Obamacare???? I can promise you that we won't be voting for him on this next round.

Wastrel
November 12, 2011 at 10:02 am

The root cause of health care costs is the middleman -- insurance companies. They own the health care system, and rake off a profit at every step. Obamacare can't fix this by *requiring* everyone to get private insurance.