LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:
As we just heard, health insurance companies now have to allow young people back on their parents' policies. That does not mean coverage kicks in right away. Last year, Youth Radio commentator Molly Adams told us about being dropped from her parents' insurance. Now she finds that even with the new law, getting back on is not easy.
Ms. MOLLY ADAMS (Youth Radio Commentator): Before health care reform was signed into law, President Obama made a speech where he was pretty much talking to me.
President BARACK OBAMA: If you're a young adult, which many of you are, you'll be able to stay on your parents' insurance policy until you're 26 years old.
(Soundbite of applause)
Ms. ADAMS: This was exciting news for me, two years since I became an official independent adult. That rite of passage was graduating college and being removed from my parents' health insurance coverage. And since then I haven't been able to find an affordable plan as a single person who works three different jobs. So when the law was signed, I called my mom - and her name is Sheera LaBelle - and I asked her a question to which I could probably guess the answer: Mom, will you take me back?
Ms. SHEERA LABELLE: Well I'd love to take you back. You know, I'm really trying to figure out, you know, what this whole overhaul is going to mean. There have been so many different rules, at least with my insurance.
Ms. ADAMS: I told my mom I'd take care of sorting out the rules. I called the benefits office of the University of Southern Maine, where my mom works, and found out that I can re-enroll in her plan in November and be covered by January. Yeah, it's not September 23rd - the date the provision officially takes effect. I'm just glad my parents have a plan that qualifies.
Right now I am completely financially independent of them, something I've been working for since graduating college. And it's strange and a little demeaning to revisit a dependent type of relationship with them. I asked my mom recently if she thought this was awkward too.
Ms. LABELLE: You know, it is what it is. It's a stopgap measure. And you will only be covered for a couple of years until you turn 26. I mean, my hope would be that you would get a job that would pay benefits. As far as it costing extra money for us, or impacting our budget, it wasn't a whole lot more because I think in general people your age are healthy. So no, I would - it would be peace of mind for me to know that you have some sort of health care coverage.
Ms. ADAMS: It would be peace of mind to me too. Even though I'm healthy, I totally live in a state of paranoia. Something could happen to me between now and January that no savings account could ever cover. Last year I made $18,000, before taxes.
This might be surprising, but the health care reform law is not a topic of conversation among my friends. I only know one other person who tried to get back on her parents' plan. But instead, she decided to split the cost of an individual PPO with her mom to avoid some headaches. My friends only talk about health care when they need immediate access. Then we're sharing information about deals in clinics or free services. Here's what a lot of friends my age and in the same situation are focusing all their energy on: transitioning from freelance - or part time - to full time work with benefits, not health insurance.
I see that changing in 2014. That's when, under the new health care law, many people - and not just young adults, but most uninsured adults - will have to make a choice: be covered or pay a fine. At that point I hope I'll be a worker with benefits, not one shopping the health care exchanges for health care I can afford.
WERTHEIMER: Commentator Molly Adams is a media freelancer and bartender. Her essay was produced by Youth Radio.
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