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Two Friends

I have two friends who are particularly relevant examples in health reform, both for their own health and in the sustainability of the health care system as a whole. The first is a 26 year old female who works in the service industry and is currently uninsured because she in not offered coverage through her employer. She represents an age group with one of the largest uninsured rates. As such, she runs the risk of missing the early stages of disease by forgoing preventive care such as cancer screening. In addition, she risks financial ruin in the unfortunate case of a catostrophic event that would require expensive emergency care. Realistically, though, she will remain healthy well into her thirties and if included in the insurance pool would provide a significant balance of risk due to her good health.

My second friend recently graduated college and reached the age limit for coverage though his parents’ employers. Due to a preexisting condition and no coverage through his employer, he was forced to obtain insurance through COBRA as he could not obtain adequate coverage in the individual market. COBRA costs him over $600 a month, nearly a third of his paycheck and more than his rent, but he has no choice because of the health services required for his condition. Reform measures such as low-income subsidies and the individual mandate will not only protect the few unfortunate young people who actually need the health coverage they have, but will inject millions of healthy individuals into an insurance pool that will ultimately lower costs for all.