Editor's note: By Romina Boccia, Policy Analyst, and Maria Andersen, Junior Fellow, at the Independent Women’s Forum.
Rhode Island state officials celebrated last week's one year anniversary of the new health care law with a birthday cake that read “Happy 1st Birthday Affordable Care Act.”
But really, what is there to celebrate?
During the past year, Americans have learned the many ways that this law is backfiring on those it was supposed to benefit.
Take young adults. Millennials are supposed to celebrate that they can now “choose” to remain on their parents’ health care plans until they turn 26. Sure, that seems like good news for some unemployed twenty-somethings, but this benefit comes with a significant cost.
Research shows that this provision alone has increased premium rates by one percent for families everywhere. One percent may not sound like much, but this is just one of many mandates that will push premiums higher.
And while select young Americans will benefit from this mandate, there are numerous others that will do little for them other than make insurance more expensive. In fact, young adults' insurance premiums are expected to increase up to 95 percent, thanks to ObamaCare. These rising costs will make the individual mandate particularly onerous for young people. Not only are the young and healthy forced to buy insurance, they have to buy insurance that's considered “adequate” by government bureaucrats. Government officials have yet to rule on exactly what procedures are essential for all Americans, but young people can safely assume that they will be forced to pay for benefits they neither need nor want at this stage in life.
Millennials forced into this new health care system will be double frustrated, since access to health insurance hasn't even been their greatest concern. Eighteen to twenty-nine year olds are much more worried about their job prospects than about health care. Harvard’s Institute of Politics revealed that 84% of current university students fear post graduate unemployment, and half of recent graduates currently employed worry that they’ll lose their job. When asked what national issue concerns them most, nearly a majority cited the economy (45 percent), with healthcare trailing far behind at only 17 percent.
These numbers don’t come as a surprise, given an official unemployment rate in February of 22.4 percent for eighteen to nineteen year olds, and 16.1 percent for twenty to twenty-four year olds. These numbers understate the extent of the employment problems faced by Millennials, since they don’t include those recent graduates who decided to pursue further education because of their bleak employment prospects.
The winner of a video contest marking the occasion of ObamaCare's anniversary epitomized many Millennials’ attitudes about the new health care law. The young adults literally plead with the President: “President Obama, don’t take jobs away from us. I’m 25 years old, I shouldn’t have to be on my parent’s health insurance. I’d rather be able to afford my own. I don’t need your health care law. I need a job.”
Sadly, Obama isn’t listening to these pleas. Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Director Doug Elmendorf recently testified in front of Congress that ObamaCare is expected to reduce the number of jobs by an estimated 800,000. Millennials with little work experience will be hit hardest by this job loss.
Millennials should also be concerned about how the new health care law adds to America’s already mushrooming federal debt. This debt threatens to be a constant anchor pulling down the U.S. economy for decades to come. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) ObamaCare would increase the national debt by $341 billion by the end of 2019. Millennials will not only be responsible for paying back their own tuition debts, they are also asked to shoulder the debt burden of the national economy.
Cheerleaders for ObamaCare like to pick and choose small provisions of the law that benefit a slice of the population, while ignoring the many other provisions and high costs that Americans also have to swallow. As the law's many mandates are put in force, Americans—particularly young Americans—are likely to find that, rather than enjoying the benefits of this law, they are choking on it.