Mike Kueber's Blog

September 22, 2011

ObamaCare for young-adult dependents

Filed under: Economics,Issues,Medical,Politics — Mike Kueber @ 1:56 am

According to an article in the NY Times, the Obama administration is claiming credit for the fact that the percentage of young
adults (18-24) without health insurance dropped by more than 2% in 2010.  (All other age cohorts went up.  In fact, for the first time, the percentage of uninsured adults in their late 20s exceeded those in their early 20s.)  Although experts agree that ObamaCare (the Affordable Care Act) is responsible for the drop, the question should be whether this is a good thing.

Most key provisions in ObamaCare don’t go into effect until 2014, but as a stopgap measure the law required family insurance policies as of September 23, 2009 to cover dependents up to their 26th birthday.  Prior to this requirement, dependent coverage usually stopped when a child turned 18 or, if they were in college, at age 23.

Obviously, this sort of requirement is going to increase coverage for young adults, but at what cost.  This is a classic example of an unfunded mandate, something that government is supposed to quit doing because it leads to excessive regulation unconstrained by any sort of cost-benefit consideration.

Contrast these two statements in the Times article:

  • “Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, accentuated the silver lining in an otherwise grim Census poverty report by declaring: ‘The Affordable Care Act is working.’”
  • “There have been no studies of the provision’s impact on cost.”

I understand why Sebelius doesn’t care about the cost of this mandated coverage.  The goal of the Obama administration is universal coverage, so any stratagem that gets more people covered is acceptable even if it ultimately reduces the viability of private insurance.  But many of us think private insurance remains the better health-insurance product for America, and we need to resist Obama’s efforts to load-down private insurance with requirements that will render it unaffordable.


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