Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Parents insuring their kids till they are 26? A bad message to send.

Last week, the first aspects of Obamacare went into effect. Most of America, including myself, is dreading the day, a couple years from now, when the bulk of the bill actually goes into affect (assuming it passes the Constitutionality test it faces in the Supreme Court), but the "patients bill of rights", as it is called, aspect of the legislation, which is what went into effect last Thursday, is the only part of the legislation I actually liked-except for children being allowed to stay on their parents health insurance until the age of 26...

I am a Gen X'er, and, as I was taught, one of the early steps that I had to take in becoming an adult, was in getting a job which provided me with my own health insurance. It was at this point that "mommy and daddy" no longer had to "take care of me" and that I could not only provide money for myself, but was self sufficient enough that I could also provide for my own health when needed. What concerns me is the message we are sending to our future generations by saying they don't have to worry about health insurance until well into adulthood.
Becoming an adult is all about personal responsibility and achieving independence, and a big part of that is being able to provide for your own health. Human nature tends towards laziness (unless nurtured otherwise at an early age); by giving the option to not need health insurance until 26 years of age, we are nurturing that part of humanity that is detrimental to a healthy, vibrant and successful society; and, in a small way, we are telling children that adulthood can wait. This in turn could breed a much broader lack of responsibility regarding personal choices like drug use, sex, and money management.
It may also cause social conflict within children once they reach the age of 18-when law considers them an adult: we have seen for decades the conflict that 18-20 year olds have when they consider they are old enough to vote and die for our country in combat, but not old enough to enjoy a beer and burger with their friends and family. What are they to think about their place in life when all need to be independent at the "legal" age of being an adult is removed? Are we to expect them to be ready for the responsibility of raising a family, owning and taking care of a home, and managing a household and career, when all the little steps at being prepared for such things are removed or pushed later and later into adulthood?...

We can hope that this legislation, 20 years from now, will not lead to such social and personal strife and inevitable economic stresses; then again, we were told in the mid 20th century that Welfare wouldn't produce an entire segment of society dependent on government hand outs for their existence.

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