Healthcare Reform: What It Means for Today's Teens

While it might seem like the only problems you’ll ever face are where to sit during lunch or how to pass pre-calculus, the future (your future) will be here before you know it. And you'll have to navigate challenges ranging from securing your first job to doing your own grocery shopping to selecting a health insurance plan.

Today, the people in power are making decisions about how our country functions that will directly impact you, teenager of today, in a few short years. One example is the recently proposed changes to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (often called Obamacare). Politicians continue to argue about many key points of the seven-year old plan: should it stay? Is it good? Has it helped anyone? These are the questions constantly cycling through the media, and with Trump in office vowing to change it, it seems that the question now changes to: If not this, then what?

The hard reality of removing a healthcare plan that has been in place for seven years is that many of the proposed changes wouldn't be felt for a few years down the road--just about when today’s teens are out of college, looking for jobs, or trying to support a family.

The first proposed change in May 2017 seemed dead on arrival, but the second and most recent one, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017, has made much more progress, passing through to the Senate. In recent days many supporters and opponents seem to believe it’s also flat-lining. Regardless of its current status, the American public can be sure that many more attempts to amend the state of healthcare in America will be made, and it's important for teens to know how all the changes could affect them down the road.

How the Lastest Bill Proposal Would Stack up for Tommorrow's Young Adults:

Like under Obamacare, young adults would be able to stay on their parent's insurance until the age of 26. However, not everyone wants to stay on their parent's insurance. While many companies today offer their employees the option to participate in a health insurance plan, today's teens (and tomorrow's employees) would have less of a chance to get health insurance through their job. Under the current proposed healthcare plan, the mandate that currently requires larger companies to offer affordable coverage to their employees would be removed.

If that weren’t enough to worry about, the 2026 young adult would have to find coverage within three months after coming off of parental insurance or face other penalties. With Obamacare, there is a fee to pay during tax time for those who haven’t had insurance for more than 10 months. With the proposed Republican plan this fee would fall by the wayside, but be replaced by new one. Instead of the mandate, insurers would be allowed to impose a 30-percent premium surcharge on consumers who purchase a new plan after letting their previous coverage lapse, and the penalty would be chosen by the state. This means the level of severity for the penalty has no regulation in place. In the Senate's version of the bill, the fee is eliminated but replaced with a deadly alternative: people who've had a break in coverage would have to wait six months before getting new coverage (for more info, see this article). The Congressional Budget Office gives an estimate that under the proposed House version of the new bill, 23 million fewer people would have insurance than today, while the estimate is around 22 million for the Senate version.

While no healthcare plan is perfect, whichever side of the political fence one is leaning against, healthcare costs debilitatingly high for many Americans, and the care Americans receive usually doesn’t match what they believe is necessary. It’s clear we still have a long way to go in order for all parties to be happy with the healthcare system.

Do Teens have a Voice?

These are just some of the many proposed changes that could happen to healthcare within the next few years. While it seems light years away right now, 2027 is just around the corner, and, in that time, the insurance landscape could be completely overhauled. It’s important to have the foresight to talk about what these changes will bring for Generation Z since they’ll most likely be the first generation to deal with a new healthcare bill in full effect. Today's teens can start impacting those decisions by first paying attention to what's going on. You should talk to parents and teachers about the changes and effects the plan would bring to better understand the legislation. Also, teens can let their teachers know they're interested in having the subject covered in class so that classmates are also aware of the proposed changes. Teens can also write their state representitives as tomorrow’s future leaders who are concerned for the future of their own healthcare. One voice is a solo, but together a whole chorus can create meaningful change.


Update 7/28/17: As of this morning, the Senate voted to reject the proposed repeal of Obamacare.