On Thursday, the Supreme Court is set to finally prepared to issue its fateful announcement on the legality of health care, a much-anticipated decision that represents one of the most important decisions in Court history.
Legal experts will be analyzing the decision from every angle, and political pundits will speculate as to the impact of the Court's decision on Romney's and Obama's 2012 election chances. But one angle that's likely to be less covered is how the decision will impact young people.
In short, if the Supreme Court decides to strike down the individual mandate, it would be a disaster for millennials. Here are five reasons why:
1) The Affordable Care Act gives additional health care coverage to millions of young adults. The new law provides coverage to millions of uninsured and underinsured young adults. The law expands Medicaid to cover people making under $14,400 a year. Almost 8 million uninsured young adults could benefit from this option. The law also creates tax credits for those purchasing insurance who earn under $43,000 a year. Roughly 75% of young people ages 19-29 fall in this category. The tax credits limit the amount an individual pays in insurance premiums for a plan purchased on a state exchange. Third, the law will allow young people to stay on their parents’ health plan to age 26. The OMB estimates that as many as 1.2 million previously uninsured young people could gain coverage through this plan.
2) The law helps to end the worst abuses of the insurance industry. The ACA prevents insurance companies from denying people coverage based on a pre-existing condition, raising rates after people get sick, and canceling an existing policy to avoid paying claims (“Rescission”).
3) Obamacare makes it easier to find and buy insurance. The new law seeks to make insurance easier to compare and buy by creating online exchanges. Each state will have responsibility for creating an exchange where individuals can go to compare plans and purchase the package that works best for them. This new competition should help to reduce prices and improve the quality of insurance plans.
4) The law requires people to take responsibility for purchasing insurance, a provision that starts in 2014. By encouraging more people to buy in, the individual mandate reduces insurance premiums by spreading risk over a wider population. Those who don’t purchase insurance end up visiting emergency rooms without the ability to afford care, pushing the cost of their treatment on everyone else.
5) The law can indirectly spark young people to be more entrepreneurial, risk-taking, and creative. By allowing young people to remain on their parents' plans until the age of 26, Obamacare makes it easier for millennials to join startups and take on non-traditional jobs and projects, and still not have to worry about getting sick. This freedom could mean that the creation of more great American companies like Facebook is on the horizon.
Young people should be hoping the the SCOTUS upholds the individual mandate, plain and simple.
This list is adapted from the Young Invincibles' Reform Explained list here.