20-somethings celebrate the ruling: 'I can pay my rent'

@CNNMoney June 28, 2012: 2:46 PM ET
Young adults celebrate the Supreme Court ruling, which means millions of young adults under age 26 can stay on their parents' insurance plans.

Young adults celebrate the Supreme Court ruling, which means millions of young adults under age 26 can stay on their parents' insurance plans.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Young adults are celebrating the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act, which allows millions of people under the age 26 to stay on their parents' policies.

The court's decision will impact how all Americans get health care. But young people in particular are breathing a sigh of relief, as a provision of the law allows those who don't have access to employer-based health care coverage to remain on their parents' plans until their 26th birthday.

More than 3.1 million young Americans ages 19 through 25 who would otherwise be uninsured now have health insurance thanks to the provision, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. That number is up from 2.5 million last June.

Since the provision went into effect in September 2010, the proportion of young adults with insurance increased to 75% last December, up from 64%.

Ryan McKenna, 24, was especially worried that the law would be struck down. Staying on his parents' insurance plan has allowed him to invest money into his digital marketing agency, Eventlolli, which is slated to start staffing up in the fall.

"As a young person out of college, there's 100% not a chance I would have been able to start my company if I had to pay for health care," he said. "There are so many costs you have to take care of as a young entrepreneur besides health care that I couldn't even imagine having to pay for it if I wasn't on their plan."

He said insurance would be too expensive to buy while he's trying to build his business. Nationwide, the average premium for individuals in 2010 was $215 per month, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

"That money could be the difference between operating and shutting down some months," he said.

Those savings also provide young people with the financial security to invest in other areas. This is especially important for 20-somethings who have little savings and struggle to keep up with health care costs.

A Commonwealth Fund survey found that 31% of young adults with medical debt said they delayed education or career plans because of their bills, and 28% said they had been unable to pay for basic necessities like food or rent.

Liz Wilson, 25, who relies on her parents' insurance to cover the cost of treating chronic stomach and pancreas issues, said that the ruling has given her the security she needs to go back to graduate school. She had planned to go before she had to worry about paying her medical bills.

"I had to put if off because of health problems, but now I have the flexibility to go back and not have to focus on finding a job that will give me benefits right away," she said."It's a nice feeling to know that I can pay my rent at the end of the month because I won't be spending my entire income on medicine."

Wilson says she's starting to feel optimistic for the first time in years.

"Just the security of knowing that there are bills coming and that I will be able to pay is a huge thing. This ruling is a big, big relief." To top of page

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