Santa Cruz Good Times

Saturday
Feb 28th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Rising Stats

news_uninsuredRecent college graduates are the largest group of uninsured Americans

“One moment was all it took,” says Rose Sniatowski.

On Oct. 26, Sniatowski and her boyfriend were returning to Santa Cruz after visiting relatives in Humbolt County. In that one, crucial moment another car veered into their lane, hitting them head on at about 55 miles per hour. The car, an Acura RSX, was completely totaled.

Sniatowski graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 2007 and has not had a job that offers health insurance since nor has she been able to afford the high monthly premiums of individual insurance policies. “We don’t know if the other driver even has car insurance,” Sniatowski says. “I’m applying for MediCal, but in order to qualify I have to be disabled for a year.” With a fractured vertebrae and a laundry list of other injuries and broken bones, Sniatowski will most likely be healing for over a year. However, the accident could cost her well over a half million dollars if she does not receive financial assistance.

The largest group of uninsured individuals is between the ages of 18 and 24, and their lack of insurance is taking a toll on their financial future. Twenty-nine percent of this demographic goes without health insurance according to a recent report by California Public Interest Group (CALPIRG) entitled “Uncovered: How California’s Health Care System Fails Young People.” In comparison, 17 percent of older adults are uninsured.

There are several reasons that this age group has such a high rate of uninsured people. Recent graduates are now officially out on their own and cut off from parents’ and university-sponsored health insurance policies.

After being kicked off a parent’s insurance, it is increasingly rare to find an entry-level position in today’s workforce that offers insurance coverage. Only 53 percent of 19 through 29 year olds were offered insurance through their employers, according to a 2007 Commonwealth Fund study, while 74 percent of 30 through 64 year olds were eligible for coverage through their jobs. This drastic separation makes up for much of the reason recent graduates go without insurance.

Additionally, the financial burden that accompanies paying for an individual policy can be too much for recent graduates to handle. The average monthly premium for someone between the ages of 18 and 24 is $80 per month, according to eHealthInsurance.com. The aforementioned CALPIRG report states, “Over a third of workers ages 19 to 29 earn less than $10 per hour.” With low wages and plenty of other financial responsibilities, such as repaying student loans, the money for monthly premiums is often not available.

Along with recent graduates, university students are susceptible to insurmountable health care costs. Every student at UCSC, for example, is required to have health insurance, and if they cannot provide their own adequate coverage, the university provides coverage through the Blue Cross Network. A fee of $383 per quarter ($96 per month) for undergraduates or $958 per quarter ($260 per month) for graduate students is tacked on to each student’s tuition bill.

“I don’t think students are fully aware of what they’re paying for,’ says Kevin Neuberger, spokesperson for the CALPIRG healthcare campaign at UCSC. “The coverage caps at around $200,000.” Most medical catastrophes, like Rose Sniatowski’s, can far exceed this cap, leaving students to determine how to pay for the rest of their bills.

CALPIRG is doing what it can to focus on healthcare and health insurance reform for young adults. “We’re compiling a report throughout college campuses, reaching out to students and their peers, sending health care horror stories to Senator [Diane] Feinstein and generally passing on the injustices of the healthcare system,” says Mike Russo, healthcare advocate and staff attorney for CALPIRG.  With these tactics, Russo is confident that there will be some change in policies. “I feel like we have been successful in getting some of the key policies in,” he says. “We’re hoping to get across the finish line sometime soon.”

Many young adults ages 18 through 24 who go without health insurance end up in large amounts of debt, even for minor injuries or illnesses. Without the financial stability to pay the bills back, their credit ends up paying the price. “I ended up going to the emergency room several times and I had to accept fees and go into debt and ruin my credit,” says Sam Rutel, an uninsured 21 year old. The question often becomes a matter of paying rent or going to the doctor or, more drastically, facing bankruptcy due to a car accident.

Other countries around the world have been able to provide healthcare to their citizens, and in many cases its tourists as well, while the United States is struggling to reform the system that is already in place. “When I went to Cuba in 2001, I noticed that they have highly skilled doctors and staff and a great system for free health care,” says Rutel. “They’re lacking supplies and medical equipment, mostly due to the embargo with the U.S., but people don’t get turned away.”

The good news for people like Rutel and Sniatowski is that the House of Representatives managed to pass H.R. 3962 for health care reform on Nov. 7 with a vote of 220-215, and the Senate has a looming deadline to the same but as of print time had not.  The House bill demonstrates a need for insurance reform: “(A) enacts strong insurance market reforms; (B) creates new Health Insurance Exchange, with a public health insurance option alongside private plans; (C) includes sliding scale affordability credits; and (D) initiates shared responsibility among workers employers and the Government; so that all Americans have coverage of essential health benefits.” Recent grads are holding their breath, trying to stay healthy and drive extra carefully until the two factions of congress can agree on a final bill for health insurance reform.

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Green Swell

Local surfboard company greens up the industry with an eco-conscious business model

 

Two Fish Bound by a Golden Cord

Until March 20, (Spring Equinox), Earth and her kingdoms (mineral, plant, animal, human) experience the influence of Pisces, sign of the World Savior. Whereas the task of Aquarius is as world server, the Pisces task is saving the world—tasks given to the two fishes. Pisces never really enters matter, and as the last sign of the zodiac includes all the signs. During Pisces, having gathered all the gifts of the previous 11 signs, it is a good time to prepare for new initiating plans when Aries (sign of beginnings) begins. No wonder Pisces, like Scorpio, is so difficult (both are ruled by Pluto, planet of death, new life, regeneration, transformations). Both signs (with Scorpio drowning in dark and deep waters) find life on Earth a hardship, disorienting (from the spiritual perspective), at times feeling betrayed. Life is a paradox, especially for Pisces. Each zodiacal sign represents and distributes a different phase and facet (12) of the Soul’s diamond light, Pisces is the “Light of Life itself, ending forever the darkness of matter.” It takes two fish to complete this work (creating eventually an extraordinary human being). One fish turned toward the material world (in order to understand matter), the other fish toward the heavenly world. Around the two fish is a silvery cord binding them together. The two fish are forever bound until all of humanity is redeemed (lifted up into the Light). This is the dedication of all world saviors (Buddha, Christ, the NGWS). Thus the sacrifice and suffering experienced by Pisces. Knowing these things about Pisces, let us help them all we can. Sometimes all of humanity is Pisces.

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Seal Change

Celtic selkie lore comes alive in dazzling ‘Song of the Sea’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Teresa’s Gourmet Foods

New owners for Santa Cruz’s leading local salsa company

 

What defines a good dive bar?

It’s slightly dirty, and they serve cheap drinks. Stella Celeste, Santa Cruz, Barrista

 

Picchetti Winery

After enjoying its contents, I couldn’t throw away the empty bottle of Picchetti Winery’s Red Table Wine.

 

Happy Birthday, Manny

Manuel’s turns 50, farmers market steel head pairs with Pinot, and a Birichino Malvasia