Not too long ago, college-aged students went without health insurance and didn’t think twice. It may have been that they could not afford it, they was no longer part of their parent’s plan or merely felt that they simply did not need it.
The latter of the three sparked an idea in summer of 2009, an idea that young people’s voices were not being heard during the health care reform debate.
Co-founders Ari Matusiak and Aaron Smith wanted to change how people in power viewed college-aged students. They began a group called “Young Invincibles.”
What began as a group-run idea in a law school cafeteria later turned into a one-page website where young people can share their stories, living the truth that they can make their voices heard. This then transformed into a national organization representing 18 to 34-year-olds that made sure the perspectives and voices of younger people are heard when decisions about their future are being made.
“The term ‘invincible’ is an insurance industry term and they wanted an explanation as to why so many young people were uninsured,” Smith said. “They were invincible and thought ‘We’re not sick, not going to get sick, so we don’t need coverage.’”
Young Invincibles focuses on the 21 million uninsured adults that fall into the 18 to 34-year-old range. Now that the Affordable Health Care Act has been implemented, young people are able to stay on their parent’s plan until they turn 26, which is likely enough time to graduate college and seek a job which will reap its own insurance benefits.
“Since this act became a law, uninsured rate went down from 28% last fall to 24.4% this fall, which translates to a reduction of about a million and the only real explanation for this is because of the new plan that lets kids stay on their parents plan until they’re 26,” Smith said.
There will also be other benefits that stem from the Affordable Health Care Act, such as preventative care without co-pay. This will give women free access to birth control. These benefits are still being finalized.
Smith said that the college health plan, which just under three million students currently enroll in, will also see significant improvements in coverage.
Another campaign that coincides with the recent health care act is “Friends with Benefits.” It is a campaign that will travel to Pennsylvania college campuses with presentations and lectures.
Organizer for Pennsylvania’s Health Access Network Athena Ford said, “This type of campaign is designed to tell college students how to tell their friends of the benefits they can receive from the new health care act.”
The campaign is also encouraging students to apply for volunteer leadership through the program and help introduce it to other campuses. Students interested in applying for a seat on the council or to get involved with FWB can contact Athena Ford at [email protected]