Young adults and health reform: The good, bad and ugly

Beneath generalizations that young adults hold the key to healthcare reform success, news reports reveal the good, the bad and the ugly effects of Affordable Care Act implementation on this market segment.

The good: Corporate recruiters aren't the only ones combing college campuses for fresh-faced prospects: Miami Dade College brought insurance advocates on-site to help students enroll in plans through state exchanges, according to the Associated Press. If similar efforts succeed nationwide, then the enrollment of healthy young Americans may offset the costs of insuring older, sicker people in the marketplace. As young Americans benefit from insurance, the system benefits from their inclusion.

The bad: Two Colorado nonprofit groups launched a "Got Insurance?" ad campaign targeting young adults. But the controversial ads raised ethical questions, Time Magazine reported. For example: "Why should young and relatively poor people be forced to sign up for insurance that charges them above-market rates to subsidize rates for old and relatively wealthy people?" the article asked. And even if young people mistakenly think they're invincible, most young adults won't ever need the ACA's comprehensive benefits, Time noted.

The ugly: College students have been caught in the web of plan cancellations that caused national uproar. Bowie State University students once paid $54 per semester for individual insurance, but the school canceled this plan for failure to meet ACA requirements, according to a university announcement. Bowie noted replacement coverage would cost $1,800 annually and later chose not to offer replacement insurance. Those students join more than 33 percent of young Americans fending for themselves on the exchanges. But some young people may choose to forgo coverage and pay a penalty instead, increasing risk to themselves and the health insurance system.

For more:
- see the AP article
- read the Time Magazine article
- check out the Bowie State announcement