Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

Baccalaureate

Academic journal article The Hastings Center Report

Baccalaureate

Article excerpt

In May, I watched my son Will and 597 fellow "millennials" graduate from Trinity College. They are part of the generation that grew up in the shadow of 9/11 (literally for my son, who saw the towers fall from his Brooklyn middle school windows), that witnessed and fought in two wars, that elected the first African American president, and that shrugs off gay marriage. If ever there were a "grown-up" generation, they are it.

Yet they're graduating into tough times. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, young adults are the most likely group in the United States to have no health insurance. In 2008, almost 14 million--a third of the total uninsured--were between nineteen and twenty-nine years old. This group also has the least access to coverage. And, contrary to the belief that young folk are healthy, one in six of them has a chronic disease like cancer, asthma, or diabetes.

What are we doing for them? One of the immediate, and immediately touted, benefits of the hard-fought Affordable Care Act is the provision for young adults up to age twenty-six to be covered under their parents' health care plans. This is progress, but hardly sufficient by itself. As employers shed health coverage almost as fast as they shed jobs in the Great Recession, just how many parents have coverage for their "children" anyway? (And isn't there something disconcertingly infantilizing about referring to these full-fledged adults as "dependent children"?)

Indeed, the impact of the provision will likely be relatively small. The Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Treasury estimate that approximately 1.2 million young adults will become covered under their parents' policies in 2011--only 650,000 of whom are estimated to have been previously uninsured. …

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