Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Big, Sick Kids

(Mirrored at the Huffington Post)

Last week, Jennifer 8. Lee of the Times did a great job on a story I covered in the Village Voice about seven months ago and wrote about in Generation Debt: a trend of laws in several states that extend health care coverage to young adults up to age 30 on their parents' plans.
Young people are twice as likely to be uninsured as the population at large.

For me, this story is extremely timely. I've had four health care plans in the last five years, through COBRA, a freelance journalists' association, domestic partner coverage from my fiance's job, and finally an employer, which is ending in December. These have ranged widely in their generosity, adequacy and responsiveness, and at times, I've needed help to pay the bills. My fiancee is currently figuring out how he's going to afford coverage for an upcoming gap between school and work.

"The rise of uninsured young adults results from two main economic forces, analysts say. Changes in the workplace mean that fewer jobs now have full benefits, which disproportionately affects the newest workers. In addition, the rising cost of premiums, whether shared with an employer or paid individually, makes insurance less attractive to a relatively healthy population."

Lee and I both made the obvious points that this policy is a little infantilizing (as is the phrase "adult children." When did that oxymoron become acceptable?) but that it is providing a useful stopgap for a specific group that is relatively cheap to insure.

Two other points need to be made, however. One is the class implications of such a policy. If your parents don't happen to have a solid job with benefits, you're SOL. The other is that policies like these are no more than Band-Aids. The larger trend, as the excellent health research group the Commonwealth Fund recently underlined with a new survey, is declining employer coverage and increased cost to the individual. What we need is comprehensive reform and large-scale risk pooling, not stopgap measures that protect a small, relatively privileged and relatively healthy proportion of the population.


Anonymous said...

We live in the richest country in the world and we cannot have universal health coverage. Reason is quite simple: Big healthcare and insurance firms have bribed all our politicians to allow such help for citizens. Universal healthcare can easily coexist with market/commercial/greed driven healthcare. There are plenty of countries that allow both and are happy. We the citizens need to figure a way out of our current corrupt, immoral and dishonest political and corporate culture.

Anonymous said...

To fix healthcare we need to focus on doctors as well. One reason medical expenses are thru the roof because doctors charge exorbitant fee for their hourly consulting work. Infact, these fee are quite hidden and never revealed to patients upfront. Doctors should be required to post their hourly rates/fees for services provided openly and in advance on their website, marketing brochures etc...This will cut down on insurance rates quite considerably.

Anonymous said...

Visit for Car Insurance Quotes for UK.

Anonymous said...

I found this small booklet, written by a financial expert. He tries to explain all the areas of finance, in terms that a child could understand. It is very well written. I just wish he'd given his name!

(He's not selling anything...just trying to help people get out of debt, etc.)
I'm going to use his advice myself.