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Sweeping Health Care Overhaul Passes the House

Youth Radio

News Report, Emily Beaver
Nov 09, 2009


The transformation of health care in the U.S. moved one step closer to realization late Saturday night as the U.S. House of Representatives passed its health care reform plan. The final vote was 220 for and 215 against. The House legislation, almost 2,000 pages long, requires most Americans to obtain health insurance or face penalties. It also significantly expands Medicaid and offers subsidies to help moderate-income people buy insurance from a new government insurance plan or from private companies. In late negotiations to secure the 218 required votes for passage, the House passed an amendment to the plan that makes significant concessions on abortion, angering supporters of abortion rights. The vote was split along party lines, with one sole Republican, Rep. Joseph Cao (R-La.), voting for the bill. The bill now heads to the Senate.

What does the overhauling of health care mean for young people? 

A lot. Young adults ages 19 to 29 are the age group most likely to be uninsured. About 30 percent of 19- to 29-year-olds (about 13.2 million people) are uninsured, the highest rate of any age group. Young adults often have low incomes, which makes health insurance hard to afford, and they usually do not qualify for insurance through the Medicaid government health insurance program. Many young adults are dropped from their parents' health insurance plans in their late teens or early 20s. The Affordable Health Care for America Act would allow young people to stay on their parents' health plans until age 27

Even though young people are generally healthy, about 15 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 29 have chronic health conditions like asthma or diabetes. Young adults are also more likely to go to the emergency room for injuries than other age groups. Currently, young adults without children generally don't qualify for Medicaid. However, the House Bill would let low-income young people without their own kids get health insurance through Medicaid.

Young adults are also  less likely to be offered health insurance at work than older adults and are less likely to accept health insurance when it is offered. The House bill creates an individual mandate, which means all young people would be required to have health insurance. Under the bill, young people who don't get health insurance from an employer, a parent, a government health insurance program like Medicare or Medicaid, or an individual insurance plan would be able to buy a health insurance plan through a national health insurance exchange. People could buy private health insurance plans or a public health insurance plan through the exchange. 

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