I attended a college graduation party for a friend of the family a few weeks back. Late May evenings can be mischievous, weather-wise, and it began to rain as soon as guests arrived. The event was staged to take place in a backyard but people, food, gifts and pets were quickly ushered in. I ended up having a great time, but later in the evening, as we made our way to our cars, I heard a group of men and women in their early 60s complaining about the rain.
This took me by surprise. Had these people more than twice my age never seen rain on a late Spring evening? Apparently not: I overheard one individual on a cell phone, dourly, responding to a query as to how the party was. “It rained,” he said. “what do you mean, ‘how was it?’”
I distinctly remember this person sipping scotch and having some laughs during the party, but yet all he could focus on was the rain. Life is full of negative experiences, but within them are opportunities to find some positive takeaway, if we really feel like looking. Nothing is entirely negative.
I am reminded of this as the debate over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) draws to a close. I have had many discussions with Boomers, Millennials and those in between who disagree with the legislation. Comparatively, Boomers are not able see the legislation as more than a magnum opus being conducted by the long arm of the government. While those who belong to younger generations, though just as ardent in their opposition, are more nimble and able to extract valuable provisions that they would be glad to see enacted if they were not part of a huge law that they are opposed to.
One of those provisions is the requirement that plans that offer dependent coverage make that coverage available to dependents up to age 26.
The Economic Policy Institute found that the unemployment rate for high school graduates was 31.1 percent over the last year (April 2011- March 2012) and for college graduates over the same period of time, 19.1 percent.
The Boomers that I have debated with over the dependent coverage provision of PPACA have given me some fuzzy math about how their premiums will now go up because young people are not subject to proper underwriting. I am not completely sold on that. Even if it is the case, socking the Boomers isn’t the only answer insurers have.
I find it frustrating that Boomers, who frankly have never had to deal with the kind of economic challenges Millennials are facing when they were the Millennials’ age, are so quick to oppose this provision even though employer-sponsored health care is the way of our world and unemployment rates for high school and college graduates are comparable to the joblessness of the Great Depression.
Just as the gentleman who described the party as a wash made up his mind that the party was a failure due to the weather, I suspect that Boomers realize that this provision is a positive one but cannot separate it from the ogre that is PPACA.
Here’s the thing: others are obviously able to separate the good from the bad in PPACA and not be stubbornly rigid in their interpretation of the divisive law. Among them: UnitedHealth Group which has publicly said it will stick with this provision even if the Supreme Court strikes the law down. Likewise, UnitedHealth’s main competitors, Aetna Inc., Hartford, and Humana Inc. are in no mood to vilify themselves by striking down the provision.
A friend of a friend was considering re enrolling in a community college even though he had recently graduated in order remain on his parent’s health plan. I’m not sure if the scheme would have worked but the tuition was cheaper than purchasing a plan. Is this where we really want to be? Using our acumen accrued at expensive universities for connivance just so we can have access to health care?
Recent graduates have enough obstacles on their plates. The cards are stacked against them. An admission from some of our elders that are against PPACA that it is, at least, not all bad would be nice. And if that is impossible, then maybe they could consider getting recent grads some health insurance instead of a card and complaints about the weather.