5 Obvious (And Not So Obvious) Ways A Health Care Repeal Would Hurt Young Americans
While health care may not be on the top concern for twentysomethings, the fact is young adults are one of the largest groups of uninsured Americans—around 13.7 million were without health insurance in 2008. Luckily, with the passage of the Affordable Care Act, getting insurance became a little easier. With parents now able to cover their children up to the age of 26, an estimated 1.2 million young adults have health care who otherwise would not, a report by the Commonwealth Fund, finds.
The ability for young adults to stay on their parents insurance has been one of the most successful parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but it’s only one of the many reasons the law should stay on the books. As Republicans attempt to pass a repeal of the law in the House, here are five more reasons why the Affordable Care Act should not be repealed.
1. ACA does more for young Americans than let them stay on their parents' plans
Despite only representing 17 percent of the under-65 population, young adults represent nearly 30 percent of uninsured Americans under age 65. The expanded eligibility requirements for Medicare starting in 2014, which will allow adults with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level sign up for Medicare, are sure to help unemployed young people and those with entry-level jobs. The new subsidized private insurance exchanges to be established under ACA in 2014 will allow another 5.6 million young adults who are currently uninsured and making between 133 percent and 400 percent of poverty wages to get health care, the Rites of Passage found. Between all the options ACA provides, nearly all of the 13.7 million young adults who were uninsured in 2008 would be able to find health care.
2. Repealing ACA means denying health coverage (or spiking rates) for those with pre-existing conditions
As President Obama said in a statement released Tuesday night, because of ACA, “Americans no longer have to live in fear that insurance companies will drop or cap their coverage if they get sick, or that they’ll face double-digit premium increases with no accountability or recourse… and children suffering from an illness or pre-existing condition can no longer be denied coverage.”
What he didn’t mention, is that being denied coverage has economic consequences. As many as 62 percent of bankruptcies were medically related, a study done at Harvard Medical School found. "Unless you're a Warren Buffett or Bill Gates, you're one illness away from financial ruin in this country," said study author Steffie Woolhandler.
3. Mothers will have to follow arbitrary employer rules about breastfeeding on the job
One of the more progressive measures in ACA that would be axed by its repeal is the new requirement that employers give recent mothers break time to pump milk or breastfeed. Breast-feeding helps child development in many ways, from helping infants fight infection to preventing early-onset diabetes and asthma. On top of the health benefits, studies show that increasing breastfeeding rates could save a lot of money—to the tune of somewhere between $3.6 billion and $13 billion. Much of this savings would go to working class families because, at present, the well-educated are the most likely to breastfeed, while those without a high school degree breastfeed the least(needless to say, it’s not the education, but the jobs the mother’s are working that accounts for the different breastfeeding rates). Instead of repealing ACA, lawmakers should shore up the advancements made in ACA—instead of just giving workers breaks, young mothers should receive paid breaks so they don’t feel pressured to skimp on the health of their children.
4. It's the Job-Destroying Bill that Isn’t
Republicans are calling their two-page bill: Repealing the Job-Destroying Health Care Law Act, but as the AP notes: ACA does not kill jobs. Republicans may be confused because AHA would allow 650,000 people who are only working to pay for costly health care to opt out of the workforce (a.k.a. retire earlier!). But, as Paul Fronstin of the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute explained to the AP: "People voluntarily working less isn't the same as employers cutting jobs."
5. Health care = Deficit Reduction
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner has said he is about showing that “Washington is ready to get serious about bringing down the deficits that threaten our economy," but Repealing the Job-Destroying Health Care Law Act is anything but a step in that direction. Boehner says: “I do not believe that repealing the job- killing health-care bill is going to increase the deficit.” The non-partisan CBO says repealing the ACA will cost $145 billion by the end of 2019, and another $85 billion between 2020-2021. Of course, fiscal responsibility has always been only a catch phrase for the GOP—you don’t see anybody from the GOP trying to explain how to pay for the $856 billion dollar tax ‘compromise, or explain why the Congressional Budget Office thinks the tax cuts will ultimately hinder economic growth.
George Warner is a staff writer with Campus Progress.
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