An excellent post from Kaitlin Bell Barnett explaining why Health Care Reform (before the Supreme Court) and the individual mandate matter to young people….
Since there is not much to do, from a layman’s perspective, except wait until June for the Supreme Court to hand down its decision on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), I thought I would share some thoughts on how it pertains to young people with chronic mental health problems – the ones who look healthy but actually have considerable healthcare needs.
This is a group that you can define variously depending on what you think constitutes “chronic mental health problems.” I’m going to define it more broadly than traditional definitions of serious mental illness and simply include young adults who have mental health problems so troubling that they seek out long-term mental health services, whether it be medication or any sort of therapy.
I think it’s important to highlight this group because Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (among many others) has argued that the individual mandate forcing everyone to buy insurance is unjust in part because young, healthy people have better things to do with their money besides spending it on health insurance.
I consider this argument flawed for several reasons, not least because young, healthy people could easily get into, say, a serious accident and then taxpayers would be left footing the bill; but there is also a not-insignificant group of people in their 20s and 30s who have ongoing healthcare needs and who do require insurance to meet them.
Many of these people with chronic health conditions, including those who take maintenance medications, fall into this category because they have a mental health condition.
Scalia’s notion of an entire generation of healthy young people is wrong. He would undoubtedly acknowledge that a subset of young people are unhealthy, but, being an older person, he may not appreciate how big this subset is when you include people who are getting or who need mental health treatment.