ACA opponents resort to scare tactics; tell youth to opt out

erin mann imageMeet our newest blogger, Erin Mann. Erin has a bachelor’s degree in international relations and political science. She’ll be blogging for us throughout the next few months.
Generation Opportunity has released a new video that badgers young people to “opt out” of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The video includes a commercial in which an obnoxious salesperson urges a young television viewer to sign up for Obama’s new healthcare plan. One of the most outlandish lines in the commercial is when the salesperson argues that the plan “needs young people to pay for the older, wealthier people.” The video is full of similarly fallacious and inaccurate statements about the ACA.

I, for one, do not appreciate being bullied into a position about the ACA. This video is a scare tactic. It is demeaning.

Those who oppose the ACA, such as the organization Generation Opportunity, want young people, to ‘opt out.’ They believe that if young people do not sign up for the ACA, the program will fail—it requires healthy (and most often, younger) people to offset the costs of caring for unhealthy (most often, older) fellow citizens.

I disagree with this reasoning. As a young adult, I believe that we all have a civil responsibility to opt into the ACA. This way, we contribute to the ACA’s purpose of ensuring equal access to healthcare. The ability to obtain good healthcare is vital to the success and strength of our country. Our government provides a free public education system so that all Americans have equal access to education. If a good education were only available to those who could afford it, where would our nation be? By the same token, healthcare should not only be available to those who can afford it. It should be available to all American citizens.

Yes, the ACA needs young people to sign up in order for it to succeed and achieve its purpose—to create equal access to good healthcare for all Americans. But young people, as well as all Americans, need to understand why they should opt in. A nation is only as strong as its weakest (and in this case, its sickest) citizens. If we ran a society where everyone was only in it for themselves, what would happen? Do we want to find out?

In regards to the ACA and Utah, this topic takes on particular significance. Governor Herbert has said that he will make a decision on whether Utah will expand Medicaid in early 2014. The Medicaid expansion would provide coverage to an additional 123,000 low-income uninsured Utah residents.

In some circumstances, the access to good health care for these currently uninsured Utahns may be the difference between life and death. Just as young Americans have a duty to sign up for the ACA, we have a duty to these Utahns. The Utah state government should expand Medicaid coverage under the ACA’s provisions so those not presently eligible for insurance can have access to it.

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