October 9, 2013 by jeliwobble
As the man has been deliberating on his job decision, one of the things we have been looking at closely is health insurance. In order for us to be able to make a contract role work, we *have* to be able to afford privately purchased health insurance. With four children, this is an absolute no brainer. However, I am also a cancer survivor, therefore I have a ‘pre-existing condition’ that, up until last Tuesday, would have precluded us buying from some health insurers or paying through the nose for the privilege from others.
The Affordable Care Act, passed by House, Senate *and* deemed ‘constitutional’ in an in-depth analysis by the Supreme Court, means that my family can buy health insurance at a premium that means we can afford it (just). OK, yes, in order to have the privilege of affordability, we have also lost the right to refuse to pay it, but from a personal point of view, health insurance isn’t something anyone can actually afford to go without. It’s a relief. If Son breaks a bone, or the girls need acute asthma treatment, or I need to see a specialist to keep an eye on my hormone levels, we won’t need to remortgage the house to afford the hospital bills.
This morning, it was announced on local NPR, with pleasant surprise in the reporter’s voice, that Connecticut’s ACA website has seen a large proportion of those signing up for health insurance as being in the 18-34 age range. I have to ask why this is a surprise?
Firstly, having looked at health insurance before the ACA kicked in, it was completely out of our price range. Now it’s not. Therefore, one can only conclude that younger people, who typically earn a lot less, couldn’t afford it either.
Secondly, those younger people also typically work in temporary positions, often putting themselves through college at the same time, positions that don’t generally come with employment healthcare schemes. Due to the low earning potential of such employment, the best option was to not have health insurance at all, being young and relatively healthy. Reasonably, though, young people who end up needing healthcare, end up needing it in catastrophic ways, such as car accidents, work accidents or cancer diagnosis, placing huge burdens on themselves and their families.
Thirdly, and probably most importantly as far as I can see, this up and coming generation of young people are some of the most ‘diagnosed’ in the world… Many more of them than in previous generations will have some kind of ‘pre-existing condition’ that would have previously put health insurance far out of their reach. Now, though, the health insurance companies have to provide ‘affordable’ insurance to those with ‘pre-existing conditions’.
So, not only do young people *have* to have health insurance, where they didn’t before (or pay a fine), but they also can finally afford to have health insurance. It shouldn’t be a surprise that so many of them are availing themselves of the opportunity.
What should be surprising is that it has taken the USA so long to implement and is still frustratingly being harassed in Congress as I type. While I do understand that there are certain parts of the country which treasure the ‘right to make bad choices’, as well as the rights of the individual over the rights of the community, the time for this level of selfishness has passed. The health insurance business has had its field day and its greed is unsurpassed. It was, and has been for some time, the single biggest expense for American businesses and tax payers. While it remains to be seen if the ACA is the ‘right’ thing to be done, *something* needed to be done. Give the Act a few years and see if those costs do or don’t come down before saying that it’s going to cost us all more money.