Youth Get New Options With Reformed Health Care Laws
News Analysis, Donny Lumpkins
Sep 24, 2010
Editor's Note: This week, some of the latest health care reform laws passed by the U.S. Congress and the Obama administration came into effect, which give many young people the chance to get proper medical coverage. Donny Lumpkin spoke to some young people who will benefit greatly from the latest reforms, and some who think staying healthy is all the medical coverage you need. Donny Lumpkins is a senior content producer for YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia. Malcolm Marshall contributed to this report.
Recently, Congress and the Obama administration passed health care reform that could expand coverage to 32 million Americans who are uninsured. Up to two million young people who are uninsured will benefit from the reform that will allow people to say on their parent’s health insurance until their 26th birthday.
The healthcare reform law is undoubtedly a landmark in American history, but it’s too early to release the red, white, and blue streamers. Some young people are excited about the new law, but still skeptical about health insurance, and believe that if they can take care of themselves they can avoid health problems to begin with.
23-year-old Avery Kirkland, a Berkeley resident, is insured through his mother’s insurance.
“I'm excited about the idea of it (heath care benefits for young people) yes. But does that mean dumping billions of dollars into something that might not work?”
Kirkland says he’s all for healthcare reform, but he thinks people can do things in their own lives to stay healthy.
“I'm for health care reform in the sense of people reforming their own lives and getting their own shit together, so they don’t have to rely so much on a system where you have to pay insurance for drugs and remedies [to treat conditions] that we might be able to prevent altogether in the first place,” he says.
Kirkland says he’s never had to buy his own insurance before and even though he’s covered through his mother, he says he rarely has to use it. He goes to the doctor and dentist once a year.
“I’ve never had any health crisis where I needed unusual medical attention.”
Kirkland says he’s not really sure what he’s going to do when he’s no longer covered under his mother’s insurance.
“I try to live a minimalist lifestyle, so I might try to put that off or get some real basic coverage,’ he says. “I plan to keep myself in good health. At the same time you never know what can happen.”
Berkeley-resident Alice Cockram, 17, says she thinks keeping yourself healthy is way more important than getting insurance. She says she rarely thinks about health care. She tries to do her best to keep herself healthy, so she won’t have to worry about it in the future.
“Health coverage doesn't mean that much to me. I don't have it. I'm vegan and eat raw foods. I'm very strict about my lifestyle and my health and the way I take things in. When I get sick, I eat some ginger or garlic, rest and get better. I got clinics occasionally when I really need something that the universe can't provide for me.”
Cockram says she became a vegan mostly for health reasons. She added: “It’s been proven that how you eat is how you live.”
Keith Anderson, 24, and Harris Cox, 19, who both live in San Francisco are among the people who stand to benefit from the new healthcare reform law. They are two young black men who had lost coverage under their parents’ insurance when they reached a certain age. Anderson and Cox, who are both fathers, are now eligible to remain on their parents’ healthcare plans until they are 26.
“I do feel very vulnerable, I mean, you don’t know what tomorrow is gonna bring -- you know. And I have children now. And I just want that reassurance that I will be taken care of when something does happen.” said anderson
Anderson says he pays for his kid's health insurance, but it can get expensive.
Cox says when he was uninsured he did his best to keep himself healthy.
“I try to take care of myself. I try to eat more and be healthy. I take iron pills and things like that to cope with the weather. I have a son, and I try to make sure he stays healthy too.”
I’m 20-something, and perceived invincibility comes with the territory. It sort of feels like this is the only time in my life where I can be reckless and take my body for granted. Plus, having even more money taken out of my paycheck each week can be equally as crippling as a broken arm or leg.
For me, my biggest concerns don’t have anything to do with health insurance or my health, and everything to do with money and convenience. I guess it reinforces the perception that young people only think about the short term. But who can you blame us? The economy is in the tank, and most of us are having a hard time finding jobs and getting into school. Health care may not be at the forefront for everyone, but at least now, young adults who want coverage can get it.
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