An advocacy group for young people called the Young Invincibles filed a legal brief in support of President Obama’s health care reform law, which the group says promised health insurance for 17 million young adults.
Some 20 million young adults between the ages of 18 and 34 currently don’t have insurance, the group argues. When the full benefits of the law kick in in 2014, about 8 million young adults will qualify for Medicaid and another 9 million will become eligible for federal subsidies to buy private insurance on new state health insurance exchanges.
The group’s amicus brief argues that the requirement that everyone have insurance — the crux of the legal challenges against the law — “does not impose a significant burden on young adults.”
“On the other hand,” the brief argues, “eliminating this and other pillars of the [healthcare reform law] would undermine the regulatory scheme and harm the health and economic well-being of millions of young Americans by denying them access to affordable healthcare.”
According to the brief (.pdf), the group was founded because “young adults are under-represented” in health policy decisions due to the “lack of economic resources and opportunity needed to influence the political debate.” The group wants to represent a demographic that is largely left out of health policy discussions.
The group’s name confronts the myth that younger people — “invincibles” — do not buy health insurance because they do not want to or do not see the value in it. The group argues the reality is that young people “have limited access to the most common form of coverage, employer-provided insurance, and are frequently priced out of individual insurance.”
“Over 12.2 million young adults live below the poverty line,” the group explains. “The unemployment rate for people ages 18 to 34 is currently about 12 percent, compared to between 8 to 9 percent for the population as a whole. … Because of this lack of resources, young adults are not a powerful constituency and thus have not been the focus of attention in health care legislation.”
The provision in the Affordable Care Act that allows people under 26 to stay on their parent’s insurance has already helped 2.5 million young adults gain health insurance since the law took effect.
Senate candidate Craig Miller criticized young people a couple of weeks ago for expecting help from the government and specifically mocked this provision in the Affordable Care Act. Miller told Creative Loafing young people should “get off [their] butt, go get a job.”
The state of Florida is currently leading the legal challenge in the Supreme Court against the health care reform law. Hearings are set to start in a few months.