The Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the fundamental reform of the government’s health care overhaul, which requires all Americans to purchase health insurance or face a penalty starting in 2014, generated mixed reactions in the Mahoning Valley.
Among those most perplexed by both the stipulations of the law and the court’s ruling was the college-aged demographic. Its ranks include both the insured and the uninsured.
Young adults ages 19 to 29 make up nearly one-third of the uninsured population and have the highest uninsured rate of any age group. Thirty percent of young adults do not have health insurance, compared with 17 percent of older adults, those aged 30-64, according to healthcare.gov.
Now that the finer details of the Affordable Care Act are likely to move ahead — such as tax breaks to aid companies in bringing more beneficiaries onto their health-care plans and the multitude of exchanges aimed at reducing the costs of insurance premiums — the young people surveyed Thursday were nevertheless unclear about the future.
Many of those approached near Youngstown State University refused to be quoted because they either knew too little about the law, or they didn’t care altogether. Others had decisive opinions.
Maurizio Nerone, 21, who studies philosophy and biology at YSU, said he has “no idea how the law works.”
“I can’t really say,” he added. “What fees are they charging; how much is this going to cost me? I don’t know.”
Nerone, who said he’s been without insurance for three years because his parents can’t afford to keep him on their policy, had mixed feeling on the court’s rulings.
“I’ll pay if I have to,” Nerone said. “If it’s $5 or $10 I can swing it, but any more than that, and it’ll be difficult.”
On the other hand, Ken Furdich, 21, enrolled in the university’s pre-pharmacy program, is on his parents’ insurance policy. He said he’s read a great deal on the law.
“I understand the reasons behind requiring a mandate,” Furdich said. “But in the end, I feel like you should be able to choose, but it is expensive, and that’s an issue.”
Ray Vaio, 23, a pre-med student who also has health insurance through his parents, likened the mandate to purchasing car insurance.
“It’s like every other type of insurance; if you don’t buy it, you pay a fee,” he said.
“But upwards of $2,000 a month isn’t right, either. I think its something that definitely needs work, but we’re going in the right direction,” Vaio added in discussing both the cost of certain insurance plans and some of the finer points of a law that will inevitably affect his future career path. “Right now, it’s hard to say, I have mixed feelings.”
Then, of course, there was the generational divide.
Take Tom Morris for example, 62, a retired Mahoning County employee with health insurance through his retirement package. He agreed with the ruling because “people with insurance pay for those without it, and we’re being penalized because of it.”