Young people are key to the success of the Affordable Care Act. As many have reported since the law passed, the success of the insurance marketplaces depends on young, healthy people enrolling in health insurance. The Obama administration, and their critics, are not shying away from talking about what young people can, and must, do for the Affordable Care Act in order for it to succeed - but for many Millennials facing unemployment, underemployment, and anxiety about job security, it is also about what the ACA can and will do for them.
Young Americans' experiences in the job market are different from their parents'. Not only are benefits - including health insurance - increasingly more difficult to find, but the very concept of a career built around one job or workplace is shifting for this generation. For young people facing economic insecurity in the aftermath of the recession, many of the provisions in the Affordable Care Act could not have come at a better time.
More on how Millennials benefit from the Affordable Care Act below the jump.
|Whether you buy into the hand-wringing about this generation or not, it has seen shifts in certain trends, such as home ownership, that are due largely to economic hardship. Millennials are far more likely to rent than own their own homes, and this generation is moving back in with their parents in numbers higher than any seen in America since the 1950's. Where their parents often built careers around one employer, and relied on that employer for benefits like health insurance, Millennials have different expectations. Most young people assume they will work for multiple employers throughout their lifetimes, and many are already engaged in multi-careerism, or having multiple vocations simultaneously as opposed to one job that defines their career.
As they bounce from school to unemployment to underemployment, health insurance can be difficult to maintain. One of the first effective provisions of the Affordable Care Act had an immediate impact on young people's ability to stay insured. The ACA allowed them to stay on their parents' health insurance until they turned 26. For many students graduating in the midst of the recession and facing bleak job prospects, continual insurance would not have been possible without this provision.
The health care exchanges give young people over 26 access to adequate coverage and the possibility of subsidized health insurance to make it more affordable to stay insured. For many young people, this will put insurance within their reach where they would have no option before the Affordable Care Act.
For young women, the provisions in the Affordable Care Act that guarantee access to certain preventative healthcare services without a copay are incredibly important for their reproductive health. Not only will this make exams such as pap smears easier to access without the barrier of costly copays, but it removes a barrier to effective contraceptive usage for the majority of young women who cited the cost of contraception as prohibitive to their consistent use.
Under the Affordable Care Act, Millennials no longer have to worry about being denied coverage due to lifetime or annual coverage caps. As they navigate their multi-career paths, that will more than likely include periods of unemployment and underemployment, they can rest assured that they will still have access to insurance. Insurance companies are also not allowed to cancel coverage due to paperwork mistakes or errors, so young people navigating the complicated world of health insurance don't have to worry about jeopardizing their health.
Yes, the Affordable Care Act needs young people in order to succeed and help Americans of all ages and levels of health have access to a healthcare. But as Millennials move into the workforce and continue to face economic uncertainty, the ACA will also be there for them to make sure they can get enrolled and stay that way.
Read All "12 Days of Enrollmas" posts here.