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By Rhonda Brown
October 15, 2013
Caption : Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., left, accompanied by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C     Credit : AP/J. Scott Applewhite

The initial goal of the Medicaid expansion was to cover Americans who are unable to buy insurance. However, the Supreme Court ruled that states could choose to opt out of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion laws, which left the decision to participate in the hands of the governors and state leaders.

According to Families USA, 25 states have chosen to opt-out of the Medicaid expansion, while Pennsylvania and Florida have yet to make a decision. As a result, adults who age 19 to 29 and reside in the states opposed to the expansion of Medicaid will be negatively impacted.

Traditionally, young adults receive higher health coverage rates compared to all other age groups; therefore, leaving them unable to afford health care on their own, which is why the ACA included the Medicaid portion originally, but now half of the country is not required to abide by that portion of the law.

In order to understand how Millennials in the states without the Medicaid expansion are be negatively impacted, it is necessary to appreciate how the expansion benefits otherwise.

The Affordable Care Act:

  • Allows young adults to stay on their parent’s health insurance plan until they reach age 26.
  • Expands Medicaid to all adults with incomes at or below 138 percent of the poverty level. This is currently $15,856 for individuals.
  • Will help young adults purchase quality, affordable health insurance.

Meaning, those who live within the opposing states:

  • Will be kicked off of their parent’s health care plan at the age of 19.
  • May not be able to afford to buy health insurance because many individuals in their early 20s work in low-income or temporary jobs that do not offer health insurance.

Many Americans are concerned that passing the Medicaid expansion will increase the health insurance premium rates of for young adults in the individual market; however, Census data shows that this will impact only 3 percent of the 47 million young adults because they have incomes too high to qualify for federal subsidies to fully offset the premium increases. The vast majority will not be affected.

A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that Medicaid expansion will actually help state budgets. These states can expect to save on state-funded services such as mental health, corrections-related health care, and uncompensated care that they now provide to uninsured individuals whom will become newly eligible for Medicaid.

Also, in an article by the Center for American Progress, our parent organization, research shows the uninsured are more likely to have poor health and higher mortality rates than those with insurance because those who are not coverage avoid preventive services.

If every state participated in the Medicaid expansion provision, 45 percent of the 10.4 million young adults would gain coverage. Without Medicaid expansion, these states are denying these young adults affordable health care and leaving no options.

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