Despite Republicans’ strong opposition to the 2010 Affordable Care Act, a study led by the Commonwealth Fund stated that 63 percent of young adults who identify themselves as Republicans have signed up or enrolled under their parents’ health coverage, compared to 45 percent of those who identify themselves as Democratic. Thanks to Obamacare, millions of young adults under the age of 26 are able to obtain health coverage under their parents’ insurance plan, and apparently many Republican families are now enjoying this part of the law.
Republican politicians across the country are criticizing the healthcare law for enforcing the “invincible” youth to have health insurance, either through employment, by enrolling to their parents’ plans, or purchasing affordable coverage through the marketplace website scheduled to launch on October 1st of this year. This strategy of the ACA is aiming to decrease the premium rates by pushing millions of young people into the insurance market. Republicans oppose the idea, as they suggest young people do not need health care coverage, and even if some do, the government should not force them to buy it.
However, the study finds the opposite. Only five percent of young adults responded that they don’t need health insurance, while 67 percent were covered through employment, and the remaining were split in two: 53 percent covered by their parents’ plan (part of ACA), and the other 22 percent responded that they can’t afford it. On their website, the study team states:
There is a stereotype that young adults believe they are ‘invincible’ and don’t want or need health insurance,” said Commonwealth Fund vice president Sara Collins, the study’s lead author. “This survey shows that is a myth—a typical uninsured young adult is from a low- or middle-income family and works a low-wage job. In general, young adults value health insurance but cannot afford it.
The study also found that nearly 7.8 million young adults have either gained new or better coverage as a result of the ACA plan, indicates a remarkable success for one of the most popular and controversial provisions of the ACA. The number of uninsured young adults dropped from 18.1 million in 2011 to 15.7 million in 2013. At present, 82 percent of the uninsured belong to low-income groups.
The report also focused on the risk of remaining uninsured among young Americans, especially given that many states (mostly Republican) have refused to expand Medicaid to their poorest residents. In addition to this, only 27 percent of the study group acknowledged and were aware of the upcoming marketplace website, through which many families can gain affordable health coverage.
The lack of awareness is not only among young Americans. A poll by Kaiser Family Foundation found that nearly 42 percent of Americans don’t know whether Obamacare is still a law or has been replaced/repealed. One of the big challenges for the Obama Administration is to promote and create awareness of the new law. A nonprofit organization called Young Invincibles is cooperating with the Obama Administration to inform and encourage more young Americans to sign up for health insurance through the law, as youth participation is needed for the success of the law. Young Invincible is based in Washington DC, and has several regional offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, also New York and Chicago, and as soon as this fall, they will expand their presence to include Houston in Texas, the state with highest uninsured rate.
In an official statement to Young Progressive Voice, Adriana Zyskowski, California’s Communication coordinator for Young Invincibles, illustrated the organization’s strategy by stating:
“We are in the midst of a nationwide education campaign called Healthy Young America, designed to inform this generation about coming changes to the health insurance system and new options available to young consumers. The campaign includes health care “train-the-trainer” sessions where we educate other health and youth advocates about new changes; a website with FAQs to educate consumers and advocates; a mobile app that helps consumers learn about their options and find local services; and on-the-ground outreach and enrollment programs directed to young people. In a few places we will be getting sub-grants from non-profits receiving “Navigator” funding to assist with enrollment.”
Adriana stated that due to the long years of living uninsured, young adults — aged 18 to 30 — lack basic insurance literacy, as many are unsure which plan fits them better, and what “co-pay” and “deductible” actually mean. Thus, they have more questions, and need more information about the ACA than other groups.
“What we have seen is that when young people are informed about the law’s benefits, they overwhelmingly support these provisions,” Adriana added.
The Affordable Care Act offers exclusive benefits for the young adults, whether by providing free healthcare through expanding Medicaid (in participating states only) or ability to buy catastrophic plans with lower premiums and high deductibles, that helps in case of emergency, and of course through the popular provision that allow young adults to stay on their parents insurance till the age of 26. The ACA have already helped 3 million young adults to gain health coverage through different programs, and its projected to help more and more millions in the coming years.
“Take Massachusetts – before their reform, about 27 percent of young adults were uninsured. By last year, just 5 percent of young adults were uninsured – a huge shift,” Adriana stated, in reference to the success of Massachusetts healthcare reform in providing health coverage to young adults.
Demographic differences are a key part in achieving Young Invincibles’ goal. Women tend to be more curious about the benefits of ACA, they represent the majority of those who want to learn about the changes in the healthcare. Race is also important, Latinos and African-Americans have a far higher rate of uninsured young adults compared to their white peers. Young Invincibles is targeting these demographics via media tools, like smartphones apps:
According to a study by the Pew Research Center, cell phone ownership is higher among African-Americans and Latinos. These groups also use a much greater range of phone features than Caucasian cell phone users. This is why we launched our mobile application, Health Care Finder, to help consumers learn about their options and find local service providers.
Young Invincibles is also working with the Department of Health and Human Services on the Healthy Young America video contest. An amazing project that takes advantage of the young adults’ activities on social networks along with their multiple talents, launching a competition that aims to create awareness among young Americans and provide information on what health care options are available.
Here is the campaign video:
- The Affordable Care Act and Young Adults (theobamacrat.com)
- The Affordable Care Act and Young Adults (popjones.wordpress.com)
- Insight: Poll shows healthy young adults may keep Obamacare afloat (reuters.com)