Pros, cons of health insurance reform for young people

Those in their 20s may subsidize insurance costs for older people.

Data from the Kaiser Family Foundation indicates that 19- to 24-year-olds are the least-insured people in America - and many support health insurance reform that would make health coverage readily available.

But, says the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, not all young adults are embracing reform, due largely to worries that they would bear much of the cost of insuring older, less-healthy people.

Because adults in their 20s are statistically healthy, their insurance dollars would subsidize older Americans' health care expenses - much like Social Security, where working adults help support pensioners.

Republicans in Congress and on college campuses are questioning the fairness of this argument, though. At present, healthy young people can elect to do without health insurance - but all the reform proposals establish insurance mandates. There would be a penalty for noncompliance.

And, say Republicans, stricter rules would limit insurance companies' freedom to charge older people more. Even though older Americans' health care can cost five or six times as much as young adults', proposals would charge only two to four times as much for older individuals' insurance coverage.

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Posted: October 30, 2009

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