March 29, 2012

The Health Care Debate

The latest arguments and questions about ongoing coverage.

Scott: Caryn Powers is 24 years old. She has Crohn’s disease, an immune disorder that attacks the stomach and intestines.

Caryn Powers: It’s like having the stomach flu but it’s 100 times worse.

Scott: Caryn’s medicine alone costs more than $3,000 a month. The new healthcare law allows her to stay on her parents’ insurance plan until she is 26.

In the past, some plans only offered this until age 19. If Caryn couldn’t stay on her parents’ plan, she says she would be bankrupt and unable to work as a nurse.

Caryn: If I had to go off policy, I wouldn’t get the meds I need, wouldn’t be able to go to the doctor. I would be very sick.

Scott: The Obama administration says 2.5 million young adults like Caryn now have insurance thanks to their parents and to the healthcare law nicknamed Obamacare. Patient rights’ advocates call this an accomplishment, because young adults age 19 to 25 are the most likely age group not to have health insurance.

“This is a benefit for those people struggling to find a job or who are in an entry level job and they can’t pay for health insurance, and now they have the ability to stay on their parents’ policy.”

Scott: But as life saving as this was for Caryn, the young adult provision isn’t free. Last year, the Obama administration itself projected this one benefit alone could increase costs for an individual by up to $65 a year.

The benefit for young people under 26 is part of the larger healthcare reform bill being looked at by the Supreme Court. Twenty-six states challenged a portion of the law that requires people to buy health insurance or pay a fine. Yesterday, the Supreme Court was considering whether to strike down the whole law if the justices decide the part that requires Americans to purchase insurance is unconstitutional.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wanted to know if that part of the law goes too far.

Justice Anthony Kennedy: That is different from what we have in previous cases, and that changes the relationship of the federal government to the individual in a very fundamental way.

Scott: And the Supreme Court ruling could also fundamentally impact young people like Caryn.


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