While we might disagree on whether or not The Affordable Care Act is the right way of making sure that more people are insured, most all agree that moving America toward full insurance of all of her residents is a laudable goal. Making sure that young adults “play in the game” is therefore an important piece of making this happen. (Note: ACA is only for LEGAL residents. Covering non-legals is not part of the plan.)
A thorough reflection on this issue is in this well written blog from the Wonk page on why young adults need to be insured:
“They will not be young and healthy — or even necessarily rich — forever. Young people grow old. Healthy people get sick. Rich people become poor. The people overpaying to keep costs low today are the people underpaying 10 or 20 years from now. It’s a terrible mistake to think of yourself as having a fixed relationship to the health-care system. Health needs, income, and demographic profile all change over time — and they can change unexpectedly.
Those young, healthy rich people will need a functional system in the future when they become older, sicker or poorer. So even for those least in need, health-insurance premiums are an investment — not in someone else’s future, but in their own. Only a cramped and narrow view of self-interest assumes that the status quo lasts forever. When it comes to health, change is inevitable. The only question is whether you’ll have insurance when it comes.”
To this I’d add at least one point…young adults are part of families….this impacts them both as family members themselves assuming that others are concerned for their welfare, as well as as individuals who care about a larger network of family members. By their being “in the game” not only do they benefit now and in the future, but their loved ones do as well. It has been expedient to believe that individuals exist apart from families but it does not serve our families nor our communities well. For a good look at how thinking about families when we make policies consider our Wisconsin Extension colleague Karen Bogenschneider’s book, (2006). Family policy matters: How policymaking affects families and what professionals can do (2nd ed.). Mahwah, New Jersey: Erlbaum.