After over a year of partisan back-and-forth, infighting and debate, President Barack Obama signed the final parts of the healthcare reform bill into law earlier this week.
While the ultimate success of the bill remains to be seen, one immediate benefit to the current generation of college students is undeniable – young people will be able to stay on their parents’ insurance until their 26th birthday.
The provision, which will take effect in six months, will go a long way in relieving some of the stress associated with graduation. Currently, the UC system provides a reasonably priced quality plan as an option for all students. Students are eligible to buy into this plan until a quarter after they graduate, then they are on their own. In a failing job market, the alternatives for receiving health coverage are scarce and expensive. Even the cheaper independent plans will still cost around $1,500 dollars a year, plus deductibles in the thousands and co-pays for doctor’s visit. It’s no wonder that 18 to 24 year olds are the least likely demographic to have health insurance, with nearly one in three having no coverage at all.
What’s worse is that recent graduates are expected to start paying back student loans only several months after finishing school. Higher tuition rates coupled with the weakening job market makes this a daunting prospect. For most former students, health insurance will be one less thing to worry about in six months.
It’s fairly rare that young adults see a piece of legislation from the federal government that benefits us immediately and positively. We see a lot of campaign promises, pandering about tuition and abstract ideas meant only to placate our frustration. But this is real. This will help many of us in a way that is quantifiable and direct.