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Health Insurance Reform For Young Adults

October 13, 2009

This afternoon Speaker Pelosi and Reps. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Kathy Dahlkemper (D-PA), sponsor of the Young Adult Health Coverage Act, joined a coalition of youth organizations from thirty states for a press conference to announce a key provision impacting young adults in health insurance reform legislation:

Speaker Nancy Pelosi

The provision announced today allows young Americans to remain on the their parents' health insurance policy through the age of 26. Speaker Pelosi explains:

Young adults are the most uninsured group in the country. They often lose coverage at age 19 when they graduate from high school or a few years later when they graduate from college. Once they enter the workforce, they face new obstacles to getting insurance. Today, they are speaking out and their voices are being heard. For many weeks, young Americans have added to the call to the chorus for reform. They have offered specific proposals about health insurance reform that works for everyone.

Our legislation answers their call by: ending discrimination based on pre-existing medical conditions, capping out-of-pocket costs, focusing on preventive care, investing in workforce training to boost the number of primary care doctors and nurses, creating a health insurance exchange to give Americans a better deal in the individual insurance market, and speaking personally, a public option in the House bill. Today, I'm pleased to announce that our bill will allow young people to stay on their parents' policy until their 27th birthday if they need it.

Our young people are our future. This is our opportunity to lay a foundation for growth, progress, and prosperity for our youth, and provide affordable, quality health care to every American. It is an opportunity we will not miss.

At the press conference, Krisja Hendricks from New York shared her story on why allowing young Americans to stay on their parents’ health plans is so important. While a senior in college, Krisja was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She was still covered by her dad's insurance plan and received excellent and prompt medical attention, surgery and therapy—but two months after she graduated college, she was kicked off the plan. She applied to numerous insurance companies and, time after time, was denied coverage because she’d had cancer. Krisja said, “essentially because I needed insurance, I was not eligible for it.”

Watch Krisja’s story and video highlights from today’s event including Ari Matusiak from the Young Invincibles and Erica Williams from Campus Progress:

Speaker Pelosi concluded the press conference talking about how health insurance reform opens up more opportunities for young Americans to follow their dreams:

Just think of it — the difference that the passage of this legislation will make to young people — as they graduate from college with health insurance, they can follow their dreams. Whether it is to start a business or to be a photographer or a writer, self-employed artist or whatever, but to do what they want to do without being confined by having to find a job that has health care benefits — not a job that will invigorate the economy in a way that is different.

Now with this legislation that takes them to their 27th birthday, we take them a long way down the path of some independence, some liberation to follow their aspirations right out of school. Then, of course, we have the full package with an exchange where health care will always be affordable to them. Where we will lower costs, improve quality, expand coverage and retain the choice — if you like what you have you can keep it. As long as it would pass this legislation to keep the cost down, because the present system is not sustainable.

See more photos from the event>>

Read the Speaker’s full remarks>>

Health Insurance Reform: What's In It For Young Americans?>>

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