There are few things I loathe more than moving, and many other young people feel the same way. But for 26 year-old Allison M., the decision to move from Arkansas to Colorado was especially difficult. I’ve known Allison since I was 6 years old. In what should have been great news, Allison’s boyfriend of three years was offered a great new job in Denver. You might ask, who doesn’t love the Rockies? But for Allison, the decision to move was more than about location, it was about health and economic security.
Before her move, having health care coverage was never really a worry for Alison because she–like 3 million other young adults–was able to stay on her parents’ health insurance plan thanks to the Affordable Care Act. But now, Allison has to live in constant fear because the new restaurant she works at does not offer health insurance benefits.
Allison’s experience is not unique. In fact, only one in two young adults get insurance through the traditional employer system. This is precisely why young people stand the most to gain today as the new health insurance marketplaces created under the Affordable Care Act open and 6-month enrollment period begins.
The new marketplaces will provide Allison and America’s 19 million other uninsured young adults (ages 18 to 34) access to new, affordable coverage. Millions of currently uninsured young adults could be eligible for free or discounted health care coverage as states modify their Medicaid eligibility requirements and individuals earning less than $46,000 take advantage of automatic monthly tax credits.
For Allison, today is a game changer and will give her more comprehensive and affordable coverage options. A 27 year old with an annual income of $25,000 will, on average, be able to purchase a policy for about $83 per month after premium tax credits. That’s a plan that actually covers needed benefits – including free preventive care.
Because access to affordable coverage will not be tied to an employer, the Marketplaces also give young people new freedom to explore their career options. This could have remarkable benefits for our economy and give entrepreneurial young adults the chance to open their own small businesses without jeopardizing their economic security.
Today is an exciting day for millions of uninsured young, healthy people like Allison, who work hard at a job they love every single day. But for the one in six uninsured young adults that suffer from a pre-existing condition, today is the beginning of a new era. Millions of young people will no longer face the threat of being denied coverage, be subject to higher premiums for having a chronic condition like asthma, nor live in constant fear of experiencing a life-changing accident that could leave them bankrupt.
No one should have to live in constant worry; thankfully after today, Allison and millions of others won’t have to.
Colin Seeberger is the National Communications Associate at Young Invincibles, an organization committed to amplifying the voices of young adults, ages 18 to 34, and expanding economic opportunity for our generation. Young Invincibles ensures that young adults are represented in today’s most pressing societal debates through cutting-edge policy research & analysis, and innovative campaigns designed to educate, inform and mobilize our generation to change the status quo.
Young uninsured adults can educate themselves about their new options and how to navigate the enrollment process by checking out Young Invincibles’ Roadmap to Coverage and Healthy Young America campaign.