Two of the Obama administration's political allies (Families USA and U.S. PIRG) have just released “The Young Person's Guide to Health Insurance,” which contains a personal message from (who else?) President Barack Obama. The guide lists Obamacare's "Coming Attractions" and provides helpful advice to young people on such matters as how to get health insurance ("Call Mom and Dad" – seriously, that's what it offers as its first piece of advice).
The president's letter begins:
As you return to campus this semester, I want to take a moment to make sure you know about some important new changes that will help ensure you have access to affordable, quality health care.... Thanks to the health care law — the Affordable Care Act — you can be confident that you will have health insurance when you need it most.
He proceeds to repeat the usual talking points ("Under the new law, you can remain on your parents’ health insurance plan until you turn 26 or find a job"; "The Affordable Care Act also ends some of the worst insurance company abuses") and says that September 23 is "is a big day for young people," as it's the day when "All of these [insurance regulations] go into effect." (Most of Obamacare won’t actually go into effect until 2014.) As such, it "marks the start of a new, better era for our health care system, when Americans will have more affordable choices and more control over their health care." It's signed, "Sincerely, Barack Obama."
But I’d prefer a more accurate letter coming from the president, explaining to the American youth how Obamacare will really affect them:
As you return to campus this semester, there's a good chance that you'll lose your college health plan because of the new health care law. Then, once you graduate, you'll have the opportunity to be forced to buy government-approved health insurance, whether you want it or not. In most cases, the government won't approve consumer-driven plans that cost less and allow you greater control of your own health-care dollars. So you'll get to pay more to insurance companies.
In fact, you'll not only have fewer plans to choose from and be forced to buy one, but you'll also have the opportunity to subsidize the insurance of older Americans – as insurance companies will be banned from offering you rates based on actuarial projections for your age. This will give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing that other people's health care will cost them less than it would have cost them if you weren't being forced to help them pay for it. Now, as I've said all along, or as I've said all along since last week, none of this will come cheap. We knew health reform would raise health costs. It will raise deficits, too – although I haven't yet said that all along. But it's a small price for you to pay.
So, enjoy college, and enjoy the thought of what awaits you beyond college.