You, your parents and the health care debate

As a relatively new college student and newly created taxpayer, I really cannot help but be intensely interested in the health care debate’s recent appearance in front of the Supreme Court. After all, this is one political issue where the applications to and consequences for my own life are fairly apparent and clear-cut. I may or may not be able to buy my own health insurance in the next several years. I may or may not be required to acquire my own insurance during that same time period. My taxes may or may not increase to pay for the health insurance of others.

What decision will be made at the Supreme Court? Image from Slowtrav.com.

A lot of the debate related to this issue focuses on the role of the government in everyday life. Personally, I would always choose more autonomy and less interference over any other alternative — but it seems to me that this philosophical concern is less pressing than some of the more immediate and practical aspects of the issue.

One of the major provisions of the law states that young adults can remain (in some circumstances) on a parent’s¬†insurance¬†policy until the age of 26. Since I was still in high school when the law became a news item, I didn’t fully realize that this particular provision would almost certainly affect me.

Since my father is a military retiree, I have grown up using TRICARE, which can easily be argued as government-provided health insurance. If I stay in school and do not marry, I can keep using my father’s policy until the age of 23 — but if the health care law survives this Supreme Court case, I may be able to procure another 3 years of coverage scot-free. As a future teacher, this is about as financially appealing as it gets — 5 years to save money for other life expenses, and the chance to take care of nagging medical issues, like wisdom teeth, on someone else’s dime.

Many upperclassmen — most importantly, this year’s graduating seniors — are facing these concerns without many resources or much time to prepare themselves. They are beginning to start their careers and “real lives” with the question of health care hanging over their heads. As we all keep an eye on this case and the rapidly approaching presidential election, we should remember that these seemingly far-off political issues actually do matter — and that ignorance may mean harm, not bliss.