Northern New York Newspapers
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NNY Living
Sat., Aug. 29
Serving the communities of Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis counties, New York
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Life’s not always a party


Young adults are getting their first taste of shared sacrifice in this country, and many of them don’t like it.

A poll recently issued by the Harvard University Institute of Politics shows that most millennials (people ages 18 through 29) disapprove of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. And a clear majority of them also said they didn’t like the way President Obama is doing his job.

Those polled gave Mr. Obama an approval rating of 41 percent, down from the 52 percent approval rating he enjoyed earlier this year. In addition, 52 percent of people ages 18 through 24 and 40 percent of people ages 25 through 29 said they would recall the president if they could.

Given how poorly the Obama administration has handled the rollout of the health care reform law, these numbers aren’t all that surprising. While Mr. Obama claims the main problems with the website have been resolved, stories still abound about how people are continuing to struggle to sign up for new insurance policies using the federal government’s website.

This is just one of the obstacles of implementing something as complicated as the Affordable Care Act. Its convoluted array of requirements as well as loopholes make this perhaps the most difficult piece of legislation to comprehend much less follow.

But our nation’s health care system has major problems that need fixing. Not everything in the Affordable Care Act will resolve these issues, and those parts of the law must be revised.

There are some aspects of the law, however, that are essential to make the whole thing work. Increasing the pool of those buying insurance programs is the only way those without policies will get access to good, affordable health care.

And this is what many millennials don’t understand. They believe they’re being forced to pay for something they don’t need. Here is where some of them are mistaken.

Under the law, they can remain on the health insurance policy of a parent or legal guardian until age 26. And if they qualify for coverage through an employer or spouse, they’re covered.

But numerous young people will fall in between these conditions, meaning they’ll have to buy individual policies. This part of their concern is true.

What’s false is the notion that they don’t need insurance. Everyone needs insurance if they can’t pay for medical care upfront.

Anyone who doesn’t have insurance and can’t pay out of pocket is entitled to receive emergency care at a hospital. These expenses, of course, are paid off by everyone else who has insurance.

The goal is to create a more efficient way of providing health insurance to everyone. And paying for something you may not use right now is not new in this country.

Many of the millennials spent years attending public schools that were paid for by people who already had graduated and gotten jobs. And where do young people believe the seed money for college grants comes from? Yep, the taxpayers who’s days on campus are long gone.

Government services that benefit a portion of the population are funded by a wider base of citizens. It’s what makes these services possible.

It’s understandable that a mandate to buy insurance policies can create burdens for young people. But if we can work the many bugs out of the law, it should benefit us all in the long run by making health care available to an increasing number of Americans.

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