Besides, a law that would make insurers cover healthy young adults is far less onerous than other congressional provisions, such as the requirement that health care providers cover cancer patients at no extra cost. Ditto restrictions on what they can charge older Americans.
Joshua B. Gordon of the fiscal watchdog group The Concord Coalition, sees "very minimal federal budget implications" -- as there are advantages to adding "young and healthy people" to the ranks of the insured. "It actually saves costs in a way," he added -- a point that has been made by elected failure-to-launch boosters.
It's true that 1 in 3 young American adults lacks health care coverage -- and Washington should try to pass laws to correct the situation. But don't tell me it's practically free. As Geoffrey Sandler testified for the American Academy of Actuaries last year, "Although young people age 19 to 25 generally have lower claims costs than other age groups, increasing coverage to this group will increase claims."
And don't act as if there is something noble about failure-to-launch provisions -- when they do nothing for young adults who have no parents or whose parents don't have health insurance.
"It's a way to get people to have coverage, but without the federal government picking up the tab," noted Zuckerman. But that does not mean there is no cost -- only that employers or employees will have to pay the added cost.
This is where a proposal by the Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., to sell low-premium, high-deductible "young invincibles" policies to young adults comes in handy. As Time Magazine reported, such policies "do not constitute full coverage." But if crafted correctly, Zuckerman told me, "the young-invincibles plans could be a good option."
And not just for the sons and daughters of the middle class. It makes no sense, but the so-called caring members of Congress want to avoid the path that paves strong incentives for young-invincibles to take charge of their health care. Instead, they're pushing the "failure to launch" model.