Sebelius: Affordable Care Act Has Made A Difference for Young Americans
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius commemorated the upcoming two-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act this week, hailing the legislation as a success for young people, especially those with preexisting conditions.
“As many young adults have started their lives, they haven't had to worry about how to get health insurance coverage,” Sebelius said during a conference call with student reporters. “These are great achievements, considering that a little over a year ago young Americans were one of the most vulnerable groups.”
The Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law on March 23, 2010, brought about a series of changes in health care policy including raising the age at which young persons can stay on their parents’ health care plans to 26—opening up possibilities, Sebelius said, for adults who “wouldn't have had access, and now can receive care.” To date, more than 2.5 million previously uninsured Americans now have coverage thanks to the provision.
Sebelius also drew attention to the economic impact of the law, which she hopes will let young people and recent graduates follow their dreams instead of taking a job just because it offers health care.
“We can't take the risk that the next Facebook will never happen, just because the founder took a desk job because he needed health insurance,” she said.
Later in the day, Sebelius spoke at a White House event honoring ten individuals who are helping educate others about the Affordable Care Act. You can watch her remarks here.
Sebelius was joined on the call by a young cancer survivor, Steven Giallourakis, who has battled Osteosarcoma and Secondary Acute Myelogenous Leukemia with aggressive surgery, chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant since his diagnosis in 2003. Before his coverage on his father's health care plan was extended by the Affordable Care Act, Giallourakis said, he was given the impossible decision of choosing between taking time off school to recover and staying on his college's health insurance plan.
Giallourakis was also featured in a video on the department’s website:
“[The Affordable Care Act] really helped my peace of mind, and not wanting to pull my hair out and worrying about my dad going crazy,” Giallourakis, a student musician, said. “So it created mental stability, and also financial stability.”
Giallourakis' mother Angie described the cost of dealing with looming family financial decisions while her son recovered from a series of life-threatening procedures.
“So imagine, after that same time period, being told you have to make a decision within three months on whether your son is going to be a full-time student or not,” she said.
Jon Christian is a reporter with Campus Progress. Follow him on Twitter @Jon_Christian.
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