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Thao Nguyen's picture

It’s not hard to understand why the recent announcement that 2.5 million young adults have gained coverage through the Affordable Care Act is a big deal (this large gain is due to a provision in the law that went into effect on September 23, 2010 and allows adult children without access to job-based coverage the ability to enroll as a dependent on a parent’s plan). Let’s start with the fact that historically, young adults are one of the largest populations of uninsured in this country.

Also, because as cliché as it sounds, our youth is our future (I told you it was cheesy and cliché). They are our future entrepreneurs, artists, and underpaid (but very satisfied) non-profit employees working to make this country, this world, a better place. I know because I’m a proud member of this idealistic club.

Right after college, I got a job with a small non-profit that was lucky it could provide me with a computer, forget about health insurance. As someone who grew up with a mother who worked two jobs because our family needed health coverage (running her small business and a part-time job at a local store in order to assure our family had health insurance) I knew that benefits were no small luxury. But I didn’t like my choices: quit the job I loved and find something that included health benefits or cross my fingers and hope nothing went wrong with my health.

So as a young person, I went with the not medically recommended route of crossing my fingers. I skipped needed health visits altogether. Bad cold? More orange juice. Odd pain in my side? Walk it off. The only time I ever saw a doctor was a yearly trip to Planned Parenthood to receive my annual exam. I had to save for months before I was able to afford a plan with health insurance plan I found online – and to be honest, I couldn’t even afford the deductible (we’ll save the fact that I was paying more for this individual health insurance plan simply because I was a woman for another blog post).

I’m glad that I can say – thanks to the health care law – stories like mine will soon be ancient history. My baby sister is 23 years old and opted to work for a small non-profit right out of college, like me. Due to our struggling economy, her non-profit decided to forgo all benefits for their staff. The difference is that she, and many of her co-workers who are young, recent graduates, can go on their parents’ health insurance plan as dependents. They can continue to work on their wonderful dream of being very satisfied (underpaid) non-profit employees working for a better country, a better world without having to compromise their health and their peace of mind. All this thanks to one of the provisions in the health care law.

Cross-post from WomenStake

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