Tuesday, July 10, 2012

26 and Uninsured...Drastic Measures for Insurance Coverage

You know that saying, "drastic times call for drastic measures?" 

I never truly knew the murky meaning behind that saying until a few weeks ago. 

health insurance
Back then, we worried about
 what to dress to put on our barbies, not health insurance.
As much as it drives me crazy when she permanently borrows my clothes and uses all of my shampoo when she visits, putting sibling rivalry aside, my older sister Kathryn is pretty awesome. Plus, she got the cooking gene in the family and can make a mean jar of homemade pickles - mmmmm.

But two weeks ago at a family get-together, my sister said something not so awesome that almost made me choke on my turkey hoagie.  Something I never thought would trek through my ears--not for at least a couple more years.

You see, my sister's 26th birthday is tip-toeing nearer as we get closer to September - another year older (and usually wiser! Joke!)  But seriously, this is one birthday she is not looking forward to because as of September 30th, she will lose her health benefits.  Under the Affordable Care Act, she currently is able to get insurance coverage through our parents until she is 26.  According to a recent report published by Commonwealth Fund, she is one of the 6.6 million young adults that President Obama's health care law helped stay or be put back on their parent's health plan.  That's fantastic, but as of her 26th birthday, it's sayonara Kathryn- you are on your own!

I know the suspense is killing you.  Wondering what she said that didn't sit so well with me?

Hint - Health Care Insurance to the Extreme!

She shared that she is thinking about marrying her boyfriend of four years purely so she can be covered under his health insurance plan offered through his job.  WHAT!?  I had to put my fingers in my ears! 

I was expecting we're in love; I have his promise ring; or we've been together for four years.  I've always known he was the one for her and that they are going to get married eventually, but to marry because of her health insurance dilemma.  Is that OK?
26 uninsured
Can you tell which one of us will lose our  health insurance? 
Under different circumstances, I would be elated if she was getting married.  (Being her only sister, I would assume I would be a bridesmaid in her wedding.)  But how far should a person really go to have health insurance?  What is the cost of health care for people like my sister?  Is sacrificing her dream dress, wedding venue, and first dance for a quick exchange of vows at the courthouse the answer?  Will "Til I get insurance do we part" be their wedding vows?

If you're wondering how my sister got to this fork in the road,  Kathryn was only doing what most young adults are encouraged to do--go to college.  We live in a society where fostering minds with education is pivotal to success.  Time just ran out for her.  A switch in majors and schools set Kathryn back (FYI - not all junior college credits transfer to four year schools).

Even though we are almost three years apart, we ended up graduating hours apart on the same day last May. I received my bachelor's in four years at the age of 22 and she received hers in six years at the age of 25.  I have an ample amount of time until I hit 26, while Kathryn only had a year to find a full-time job which offered benefits.

Unable to obtain a full-time teaching job due to the combination of an abysmal job market and the amount of graduated teachers she has to compete with, she has filled in her time as a substitute teacher.  She recently started a part-time job as a science educator, but working part-time does not qualify her for benefits to help with prescription medications or doctor visits. 

health care options
A bird? A plane? Look Kathryn,
there are options for you other than marriage!
According to the same report, out of the more than 1,800 young adults surveyed nationwide, nearly 2 in 5 young adults ages 19 to 29 reported a gap in health insurance in 2011.  Those numbers are a little scary. What's a girl like my sister supposed to do? I told her we would figure it out together.  As long as she makes me her famous red velvet cupcakes!  That's fair, right?

What lengths would you go to for medical insurance?  Please share!! (No judgment here!)

Krysta W.

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