New plan to benefit young adults

By Etheria Modacure

Young adults no longer have to worry about losing the benefits of their parents’ health insurance. New reforms under the Affordable Health Care Act, which went into effect on Sept. 23,  allows people under the age of 26 to stay on their parents’ health care plan.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,  approximately 30 percent of young adults are uninsured,  making them the least insured age group, with a rate three times higher than that of children.

The act’s passage was considered important to young adult’s because one in six young adults have chronic illnesses such as cancer, diabetes or asthma according to HHS.

“Overall, the plan will bring insurance to 33 million people who are [currently uninsured],” said Jonathan VanderBrug, health care justice director with the Campaign for Better Health Care.

“It will provide tremendous benefits to young adults,” VanderBrug said. “It will enable young adults to have peace of mind and focus on work, family and school and not worry about what should happen if they get sick.”

According to HHS, this new act provides  tax benefits to adults who pay for their childrens coverage.  A new provision under the Affordable Health Care Act states the value of any employer-provided health coverage for an employee’s child is excluded from the employee’s taxable income through the end of the tax year until they are 26 years old.

President Barack Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s efforts to get the Affordable Health Care Act passed in March 2010 were crucial, according to VanderBrug.

“There’s no way the bill would’ve been passed without their support,” VanderBrug said. “President Obama provided the leadership to bring up this issue. [The] issue has been debated since Teddy Roosevelt was president with very little action. It wouldn’t have happened without them.”

With this new act, no insurer can drop someone if he or she get sick, and coverage cannot be canceled. According to the HHS, young adults have the lowest rate of access to employer-based insurance.

“[This act] is going to make a big difference for me,” said Tyler Wilson, 21, an intern with the Illinois Public Interest Research Group. “[I’m] just relieved and happy for everyone [who] will be affected by this.”

Wilson said he suffers from problems with his eyes and stomach and eagerly anticipates going to the doctor and getting healthy. He said he hasn’t been able to visit a doctor because he wasn’t covered under his parents’ insurance policy.

The act doesn’t imply young adults who previously were uninsured won’t receive the same benefits as other adults who are insured. According to the HHS, any qualified young adult has to be offered similar benefit packages as individuals who didn’t lose any coverage based on cessation of dependent status.

The individual can’t be required to pay more for any coverage, but this policy only applies to health insurance plans offering dependent coverage.

“This is a pretty big win for young adults,” VanderBrug said.

As of Sept. 23, young adults and their parents should begin to check for immediate options, according to HHS. Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who wanted leading insurance companies to begin covering young adults before the initial date of the Affordable Care Act.

This would avoid any gaps in coverage for young adults and save on insurance companies’ administrative costs, according to HHS.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield, WellPoint, Inc., Humana and Aetna were just some of the leading health insurance companies to respond to Sebelius’ call to action.

In a news release, The Regence Group insurer stated it was behind the call for early implantation. The Regence Group is a health insurance company that provides coverage in Idaho, Washington, Oregon

and Utah.

“Regence has long supported health care reform and we believe this is a practical, positive step toward providing our members and their families with high quality, affordable health care coverage,” said Mark B. Ganz, president and CEO of Regence, in a news release.“Consumers are confused about what health care reform means to them, and by making these changes now, we ensure our young members continue to have access to the health care they need.”

According to HHS, if the option for early enrollment wasn’t present, young adults would then qualify for an open enrollment to join their family plan beginning after Sept. 23. Insurers must notify parents about this open enrollment period.