Originally posted while the Obamacare debate was going on in Congress.
By Prateik Dalmia
Young people are least likely to need health insurance because we tend to be healthier than the remaining population. With good reason, we often choose to go uninsured. While young adults constitute 18 percent of the adult population, we make up 28 percent of the uninsured adult population (according to a study by John Holahan and Genivieve M. Kenney of the Urban Institute). By imposing an "individual mandate," the current health care bill will require that we purchase health insurance or face a fine proportional to our income.
Many of us may prefer the fine over health insurance because of how unaffordable health insurance will be under Obamacare. In most states, because older individuals are much higher risk customers, they "pay six or seven times in premiums what younger people do," as economist Anne Kim told Fox News. But the Senate bill would impose a ratio of no greater than 3-1 and the House bill, 2-1. A study by the Urban Institute found that a 2-1 ratio would push premium costs for young people up by almost $1,100, thus dropping them a little less than $3,000 a year. Not satisfied, the AARP is pressing Congress to make our premiums identical with those of the elderly. Essentially, in order to make health care more affordable for the older population, Obamacare would force us to subsidize their health insurance.
This is ironic considering that we are the poorest segment of the population. We have not had time to build up capital, many of us have accrued student loans and after graduation we face a crippled economy due to no fault of our own (college graduates currently face a 40 percent plunge in employment opportunities according to a study by Michigan State University). Yet the government plans to take from us, the poor, and give to them, the rich: Robin Hood in reverse. As one of our few supporters, Robert Samuelson of The Washington Post said, "We have become a society that invests in its past and disfavors the future." And yet polls consistently show that under-30 voters are the staunchest supporters of Obamacare! Are we lemmings?
Note: I originally posted this in December, 2009. Prateik Dalmia is an international studies major at Johns Hopkins University. The above is an abbreviated version of a commentary originally written for the Johns Hopkins News-letter. You can read the full comentary here.