Insurance Provides Peace of Mind

Last night, House leadership decided to delay a vote on the American Health Care Act, which would repeal the Affordable Care Act. This proposal is projected to result in an additional 24 million people being uninsured. Below, Mina Schultz from West Virginia shares her personal story and perspective on what she stands to loose if we repeal the ACA and strip coverage.

I was 25 when I was diagnosed with cancer. I planned on being a language teacher, and was preparing to serve in the Peace Corps before attending graduate school. The diagnosis changed my plans overnight. I spent the next year in and out of the hospital for chemotherapy treatment, and underwent five surgeries. The cost of this life-saving care would have been hundreds of thousands of dollars and would have driven my family into bankruptcy. But, thankfully under the Affordable Care Act, I was covered by my parents’ insurance, and my treatment didn’t force them into unpayable debt. Now, as a contracted employee of a community health center, I purchase my insurance through the West Virginia Health Insurance Marketplace. At $404 per month, my insurance covers scans, labs, and medications. I’m thankful for this reduced cost because I know what my finances would look like without insurance.

I may not have become a language teacher, but I definitely applied my teaching skills when I worked  in health care enrollment. West Virginians, who have benefited greatly from the coverage gained through the ACA, have a wide range of views on how our health care system should work. At some point, everyone may need medical assistance, so everyone needs coverage. Even though the service is a necessity – and immediate one for some of my clients – it can be complicated explaining the details of the insurance market and health care system in an hour-long appointment. Many of my consumers didn’t understand what a co-pay is or had never been to a doctor, but they knew health care is a very personal issue, or even a political one. This can further complicate showing consumers how the ACA helps their health and financial security. Even when I offered practical information, I risked the educational session turning into a debate.

I wasn’t that far removed from my consumers, and understood their concerns, including around cost. No one can grasp the enormity of a catastrophic illness until it happens. But to be fair, no one can grasp the peace of mind that comes with having health coverage until you’ve needed it and used it.

I currently have that peace of mind but each day that passes, my fear grows that soon I will not only be uninsurable, but unemployed. That fear isn’t only for myself, but for all of my consumers who have benefited from their coverage: the plant nursery owner who got his first physical in 20 years, the young woman who caught cervical cancer early, the self-employed IT guy who could afford his thyroid medication again.

We all stand to lose if the ACA is repealed without a replacement that is comparable in the number of Americans it covers and the comprehensiveness of the benefits offered.  Frankly, we’ve come too far to move backwards, and I, for one, refuse to take that chance with my own health or the health of my community. Rather than rushing to repeal the ACA, Republicans should reach out to their Democratic colleagues and make improvements to health care that the American people want, like further lowering out-of-pocket costs and doing more to lower the cost of prescription drugs.

Mina Schultz is a former Affordable Care Act Enrollment Assister. She currently is a Benefits Enrollment Specialist at a nonprofit that seeks to lift West Virginians out of homelessness. Since surviving cancer, she has taken up swimming and yoga, and loves to travel whenever possible.

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#InvestInYouthSkills

A Campaign To Address Crisis Level Youth Unemployment in New York State

In December of 2016, YI released a study–Sounding the Alarm: New York’s Young Adult Unemployment Crisis & the Need for State-Based Reforms-which found that New York has a serious young adult unemployment crisis. We also looked closely at the state’s single largest investment to tackle this issue, the $50 million Urban Youth Jobs Program–a small dollar tax credit available to employers who hire disadvantaged young adults. We found that it does nothing to train disadvantaged young adults, and that employers would much rather have a skilled worker than a stand alone small dollar tax credit. To learn more, see our one-pager below:

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WE GOT THE ATTENTION OF THE STATE LEGISLATURE….
The alarm is working, keep sounding it! Youth unemployment and the Urban Youth Jobs Program were all the buzz at the Joint Legislative Human Services Budget Hearing in Albany on February 8th. Legislators had lots of questions for the Department of Labor about how effective the program is in tackling high young adult unemployment.

This is most likely because the program has undergone significant changes since 2012 and has become an annual $50 million program with zero evidence suggesting the program is actually working. What’s more, the required annual reports that are mandated to be submitted to the legislature for their oversight are missing. This year the Governor’s Executive Budget is proposing to authorize another $50 million a year for five years.

Watch Assemblyman Harry Bronson (D-Rochester) ask the New York State Department of Labor a few important questions and offer up a solution that makes sense to us:

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Assemblyman Bronson’s recommendation to repurpose unused dollars dedicated to the Urban Youth Jobs Program to fund the Empire State Apprenticeship Program (ESAP) is also a top solution Young Invincibles recommends in our latest report. ESAP would allow employers in growing sectors to claim tax credits that would help offset the costs associated with training an apprentice for three years. A key difference between the two programs is that–unlike the Urban Youth Jobs Program–the Empire State Apprenticeship Program not only trains disadvantaged young adults in growing sectors but connects them to long-term careers that pay well further helping fill the state’s skills gap. Check out our Legislative Memo of Support here.

BUT WE NEED YOUR HELP!
Your legislators need to hear from you ASAP! Over the next few weeks state legislators will be debating priorities for this year’s state budget due on April 1st and it’s critical they hear from you! Join Young Invincibles in urging them to invest in strategies like the Empire State Apprenticeship Program that invest in developing the skills of disadvantaged young adults.

Click here to send a letter to your state legislative representatives urging them to support the Empire State Apprenticeship Program as a first step to tackling New York’s alarmingly high young adult unemployment rate. TAKE ACTION!

WANT MORE?
Read some of the unanswered questions by Assemblyman Bronson and other members of the Legislature.

Assemblyman Bronson had some good questions about the Urban Youth Jobs Program that we are also looking to find answers on. His questions include:

  • What is the age breakdown of the youth who have been employed under the program?
  • What is the average length of time someone is employed and how many of these jobs are seasonal?
  • Can we have access to the mandated annual reports, which don’t seem to be available and haven’t been accessible to the public?
  • Given how research from Young Invincibles tells us that employers are more interested in having a trained workforce might it not be a good opportunity for us to use some of those tax credit dollars to hire those young people as apprentices?

Assemblyman Bronson wasn’t the only member of the state legislature to have important questions about the Urban Youth Jobs Program that need answering.

Assemblywoman Jaffee asked how many youth participated in the program since its inception? What type of jobs does the program generate? Are there any numbers to understand how many youth maintained employment in the second year benefit?

Senator Montgomery asked what are the corporations that are actually participating in the program, how many youth are participating, what percent of the funding goes to the areas where there is the highest need, and where across the state is the program most used?

Senator Persuad asked do you have any evidence as to how many youth have been advanced through this program? How many youth have come from where they were at the poverty level to out of poverty? Do you have any data showing if young adults remain employed after the tax credit expires?

Senator Krueger asked the difference between the Minimum Wage Reimbursement Tax Credit (MWRC) subsidy program and the Urban Youth Jobs Program as both cost the state the same amount of money and are designed to serve a similar demographic? What industries are using that credit? For both programs that require missing annual reports for both programs, what’s working, are young adults continuing to keep jobs after the credit is used up, and are these tax credits just a way for some companies to figure out how to use the tax dollar to pay for wages they would have used anyway such as fast food companies?

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January 2017 Monthly Jobs Analysis

JanJobsGraph

The young adult unemployment rate increased slightly to 6.5 percent, in January (seasonally adjusted), up from 6.3 percent in December. About 51,000 new young adults entered the workforce, which can cause the unemployment rate to increase. The number of unemployed also increased and by a larger margin than new young adults in the workforce. The young adult unemployment rate continues to persist at higher rates that the national unemployment rate, which also increased slightly  from 4.7 percent up to 4.8 percent.

The unemployment rate grew for young Latinos, African Americans, and Asian or Pacific Islanders over the month (though these are not seasonally adjusted). Notably, the rate for Asian or Pacific Islander young adults doubled, from 2.7 percent to 5.5 percent.

The workforce has largely recovered  since the Great Recession, as reflected by stronger employment rates, but new research published by Young Invincibles last month demonstrated longer-term structural problems for today’s young adults. Millennials today earn lower incomes, own houses at lower rates, and have amassed fewer assets and wealth than Boomers had when they were the same age in 1989.,This highlights that increased employment is just one piece of the puzzle needed to get this generation of young people back on track.

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5 Reasons #PriceIsWrong for Millennials’ Health

By Colin Seeberger

Price

Rep. Tom Price’s history as a member of Congress raises alarming flags about the policies he might champion as Secretary of Health & Human Services. He needs to answer for this record. Here’s a quick rundown of how a Secretary Price could significantly undermine Millennials’ health.

1. Price would significantly cut young people’s access to coverage.

In the last Congress, Rep. Price authored a bill called Empowering Patients, which would repeal the Affordable Care Act, or the essential means by which 8 million young adults have gained health care coverage, including 2.3 million young people who have been able to stay on a parent’s plan until they turn 26 (dependent coverage provision); 3.8 million through Medicaid expansion; and millions more through federal and state health insurance marketplaces. A new report from the Congressional Budget Office finds that repealing the Affordable Care Act would cause 18 million to lose their insurance and premiums to increase up to 25 percent next year. A Kaiser analysis of Rep. Price’s Empowering Patients legislation, his bill would would repeal the ACA’s dependent coverage provision and eliminate the ACA’s Medicaid expansion without a replacement to provide low-income enrollees coverage, much less coverage with comparable benefits.

2. Price doesn’t understand young women’s health needs.

Speaking at 2012 CPAC conference, when asked by a reporter about what women who have struggled to afford birth control should do if the ACA’s birth control mandate was undone, Rep. Price said: “Bring me one woman who’s [been unable to afford birth control]… There’s not one.” According to a 2010 Planned Parenthood Action Fund survey, 55 percent of women ages 18 to 34 have struggled with the cost of prescription birth control. It’s worth noting, Rep. Price has consistently voted to defund Planned Parenthood.

3. Price would give huge tax cuts to billionaires and cut financial help for low- and middle-income young adults.

Rep. Price’s health care bill would cut premium tax credits to low- and middle-income people and redirect that support, and in smaller levels, to individuals based on age. That means that young people, who have less work experience and thus typically lower wages, would see their access to financial assistance that helps them afford coverage slashed. Young adults are already earning $10,000 less than young adults a generation ago, so restructuring the financial help how Rep. Price suggests would only further stunt Millennial’s economic vitality. Furthermore, Rep. Price’s bill would provide 2.5 times more financial assistance to purchase coverage for middle-aged people, regardless of their wealth or health status, as it would to young workers making the minimum wage. In other words, Price would give a tax credit that is 2.5 times larger to the CEO of Goldman Sachs than he would to a recent college graduate working full-time at the GAP.

4. Price would push young people into policies that don’t meet their needs.

Price’s bill would eliminate the ACA’s Essential Health Benefits that currently ensure all Qualified Health Plans include maternity and mental health coverage. Prior to the ACA, just 12 percent of policies sold on the individual insurance market included maternity coverage as a benefit, despite the fact that the average, uncomplicated pregnancy could, on average, set a consumer paying out of pocket back $18,000. Additionally, mental health and trauma-related disorders are the top two conditions for which young adults receive health care, and 7.6 million young adults receive care for mental health conditions annually.

5. Price would expose 30 million young adults with pre-existing conditions to being denied or charged more for coverage.

Kaiser’s analysis also notes that Price’s bill would repeal the ACA’s prohibition on denying coverage for pre-existing conditions. Instead, people with pre-existing conditions could be guaranteed coverage only if they are already insured or if they withstand an 18 month waiting period. In other words, say that you are working at a job and have a one week lapse in employment and health coverage, under Rep. Price’s bill, insurance companies would be allowed to deny you coverage for up to 18 months due to the one week lapse in coverage.

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December Jobs Report: Young Adult Unemployment Lowest Since May 2007

The unemployment rate for young adults fell to 6.3 percent in December 2016,  its lowest point in nearly a decade. Last week’s report is the final jobs report of the Obama administration, which oversaw a volatile workforce that significantly impacted young adults. A few notable points:

  • Young adults suffered from 54 straight months of double-digit unemployment rates between January 2009, when President Obama first took office, to June 2013.
  • Young adult unemployment reached its height at 13.3 percent in April 2010.
  • Last month’s rate of 6.3 percent is the lowest the rate has been since May 2007.

This graph below tracks the unemployment rate among young adults and the workforce generally over the last decade. It also highlights the weak jobs market President Obama inherited from the Great Recession and the slow recovery through his administration. the Recession (yellow area) officially began in December 2007, over a year before Obama took office and continued for at least six months into his presidency. The green indicates an overlap of both the recession and the Obama administration (remember how yellow and blue make green?). Starting with the recovery in June 2009, the unemployment rate for young adults steadily declined to last month’s historic low.

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Taking a closer look at the most recent unemployment rates for December of last year, we see that despite overall gains, that young African Americans still suffer from the highest unemployment rates, double the rate overall, at ten percent. Young Latino adults also have higher rates at 7.3 percent. Young Asian or Pacific Islander adults had the lowest unemployment rates at 2.7 percent.

image01While the jobs market has generally recovered from the Great Recession in the short-term, last week Young Invincibles released new research analyzing long-term declines in financial security, which show that  today’s Millennials earn lower incomes, own homes at lower rates, and have amassed fewer assets and wealth than Baby Boomers when they were the same age.

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New Report from Young Invincibles: Millennials are Significantly Less Financially Secure Than Baby Boomer Parents

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
January 13, 2017
Contact: Sarah Schultz, Sarah.Schultz@YoungInvincibles.org, 202-734-6510

New Report from Young Invincibles: Millennials are Significantly Less Financially Secure Than Baby Boomer Parents

 Millennials have half the net wealth Boomers did when they were young adults

[Washington, D.C.] — Today, Young Invincibles released its latest report, The Financial Health of Young America: Measuring Generational Declines Between Baby Boomers & Millennials. The report analyzes the economic challenges facing today’s young people and represents the most comprehensive look to date at the financial security of Millennials compared to their parents. The findings are based on a cross-generational analysis of Millennials today compared to Boomers when they were young adults.  In summary, this generation of young people earns lower incomes, is less likely to own a home, and has lower net wealth than their parents’ generation at the same stage in life. Some of the key findings include:

  • Millennials have amassed a net wealth half that of Boomers at the same age.
  • Young adult workers today earn $10,000 less than young adults in 1989, a decline of 20 percent.
  • When baby boomers were young adults, they owned twice the amount of assets as young adults.

“These findings uncover that Millennials have been set back significantly, by not just the Great Recession but by decades-long financial trends, resulting in major generational declines in financial security between Millennials and Baby Boomers when they were the same age,” said Tom Allison, Deputy Director of Policy and Research for Young Invincibles. “Millennials make up the greatest share of the workforce and the largest generation in history, so in many ways the situation facing young adults today forecasts the financial challenges ahead for the nation.”

This report also distinguishes financial security by the characteristics that make this generation unique in the first place: cultural and racial diversity, the increased need for skills to compete in the workforce, and a growing reliance on student debt to finance postsecondary education.

While we’ve seen some progress in closing wealth gaps since the 80s, there are still stark and disturbing disparities in wealth across racial groups. The report shows that young African Americans’ median wealth has declined by a third since 1989. Low wages continue to exacerbate racial disparities, as young African Americans and Latinos earn 57 cents and 64 cents respectively for every dollar earned by young whites.

Regarding student debt, the report underscores that higher education is still on the whole a person’s best pathway to financial security. It is also increasingly necessary in today’s workforce which requires higher levels of education. A college graduate in 2013 earned roughly the same income as a high school graduate did in 1989. Yet student debt is blunting some of the premium a degree provides. Median assets declined faster for student borrowers with a degree (-71 percent), than those with only a high school diploma or less (-54 percent).

The report outlines a bipartisan policy plan to help Millennials start building wealth, which includes the Earned Income Tax Credit, increasing the minimum wage, portable retirement plans, incentivizing ways to save tax refunds, and more. “As the new administration and Congress take office this month, we urge them to consider these findings. We need policies that will help Millennials build wealth and make sure our generation doesn’t fall further behind,” said Allison.

 

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October Jobs: Numbers Moving in the Right Direction

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Excerpt from Barron’s Next: Looking for a Job? Here’s Where to Find One (11/4/2016)

Overall, unemployment for millennial-age workers is 35% higher than for the population at large, and pay, while finally beginning to rise, is still lower than it was before the recession, Young Invincibles data show. But the numbers are at least moving in the right direction: The unemployment rate ticked down to 6.6% for workers age 18-34 in October from 6.7% in September, and 55,000 jobs (outside of agriculture) were added. Even better, the reason the unemployment rate fell is because more young workers found jobs rather than giving up and leaving the labor force, Allison says. “The big picture is pretty encouraging,” he says.

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Your Health Care Navigation Stories, in 1Graf

When Open Enrollment approaches, so can a lot of fears connected to navigating coverage. A number of obstacles can impact the likelihood a young person will sign up for health care, one of them being sheer discomfort and lack of navigation. We asked young people about their level of comfort and knowledge on their health care packages, and what they’d like to learn.

Miles Le, 23

Navigating health is still difficult. Reading through the clauses of the plans, making sure to pick something that would cover what I need and still be affordable isn’t exactly what I want to be worrying about when there’s a million other things to worry about as well. I just want to know why medical care has to be purchased instead of being something that’s inherent to being alive. That and how to best use my healthcare plan without bankrupting myself at the same time.

Kreig Rajaram, 26

I visited the doctor for the first time in years this April. I was excited and nervous because it would be my first time going to the doctor as an “adult”. I have been to the doctor as a person in my 20s before but never under my own health insurance. This time it was all on me. I was the primary care holder and I was in charge because I had pretty good knowledge of my plan. I knew what my visit would cost going in and how I would be billed. I knew that since this visit was an annual checkup it was going to be free as preventative care and I took full advantage of it by asking every question under the sun. Now I want to learn more about all the other benefits that my health insurances offers like discounts on gym memberships and nutrition planning help, both of which will help me stay on top of my health.

Want to read more Millennial stories? Check out our 1Graf Friday homepage.

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Young Invincibles and Dozens of Groups Oppose Raiding Pell

Young Invincibles and a coalition of 33 higher education stakeholders recently sent a letter to Congressional appropriators asking for Pell funds to remain within the Pell program. The funds are essential to maintaining the financial integrity of the program for years to come, and vital to improving and expanding Pell’s capacity to help the millions who depend on it to attend college. We look forward to continuing our efforts on this issue in the weeks and months ahead.

Download full letter here.

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September Jobs: Millennials Got a Raise Last Year (but still make less than they did before the recession)

By Tom Allison

Earlier this month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the monthly jobs report for September. The unemployment rate for young adults aged 18-to-34 stayed flat at 6.7 percent (seasonably adjusted).  The rate remains above the national average of 5.0 percent.

Below are the race and ethnicity breakouts for young adults (not seasonably adjusted):

  • African American: 11.1 percent
  • Latino: 7.4 percent
  • Asian or Pacific Islander: 5.0 percent

We’ve covered the slow but steady recovery for young adults in the job market in previous posts. Don’t forget that in June 2013, young adult unemployment was at 10.4 percent, with 2.9 million fewer young adults working today. Looking even further back to the depths of the recession in September 2009, young adult unemployment was at 13.0 percent. 

But for these young adults who are working now, how much are they earning from those new jobs? New Census data released last month showed real (adjusted for inflation)  median income rising for the first time since 2007. We crunched the numbers for young adults and saw similar trends. Real median earnings for workers aged 18-to-24 rose $1,000 to $14,000, while 25-to-34 year-olds’ earnings rose $2,000 to $35,000.

So young adults got a raise last year. That’s good. Only problem is, after adjusting for inflation, young adults are still earning less than they did before the recession in 2007. And these declines are steeper for them than for older workers. As the table shows below, our youngest workers make 6 percent less than they did in 2007. This compares to only a 1 percent decline for workers 35 and older. Fortunately 25-to-34 year olds median income rose 2 percent during this time.

Median Earnings Since Recession (2007 to 2015)
Age 2007 2015 % Change
18-24 $ 14,820 $ 14,000 -6%
25-34 $ 34,200 $ 35,000 2%
35+ $ 43,320 $ 43,000 -1%
Young Invincibles Current Population Survey, adjusted to 2015 dollars

Young Invincibles will release new research exploring the implications of these income declines, with a close look at education attainment, student debt, and demographic equity. Beyond income, we’ll also look at wider indicators of financial security, like home ownership, saving for retirement, and asset accumulation. Stay tuned.

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