Yesterday was a big day for cancer survivors all across our country – especially young adults. In case you missed it, the Supreme Court upheld the ruling on the Affordable Care Act. There was a lot of noise and debate around this law and yesterday’s ruling. All of this noise is great because it raises awareness of the healthcare issues faced by so many Americans, but it can also result in confusion about what the law and ruling actually means for Americans. And most importantly for the Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults – what it means for young adults.
The Affordable Care Act contains several provisions critical to cancer survivors and their families but below are a few that are so critical to the young people we serve and our ongoing efforts with our partners all across the country to improve survival rates, the quality of life and care for young adults facing cancer.
- Routine costs for clinical trial participation must be covered by insurance
Why is this important: Survival rates for young adults facing cancer haven’t seen the improvements in the last two decades relative to other populations. A myriad of unique issues contribute to the lack of progress in improving survivorship among young adults, including delayed diagnosis (young adults who don’t seek care and medical practitioners who don’t look at cancer as being a potential diagnosis), limited access to care and lack of adequate health insurance, inadequate treatment and low participation in clinical trials. This ruling and provision won’t force young adults to participate in more trials, but it can only enhance their ability to seek out and receive the most cutting edge treatment protocols – and hopefully begin to improve the population’s relative survival rates over time.
- Cover young adults under their parents’ insurance policy until their 26th birthday
Why is this important: Young adults between 18 – 26 remain one of the largest populations of Americans either uninsured or underinsured. One of the largest contributors of this issue is young adults being dropped from their parent’s insurance plans when they turn 18, 21, graduate from college or start a career. This provision will enable young adults to hold insurance through their parents plans during this critical transition period. Unfortunately, way too many young adult cancer patients we connect with do not have insurance – they were forced to drop off their parent’s plans or they opted to go a period of time without insurance after school or between jobs. This provision will dramatically reduce this unfortunate scenario and allow young adults to avoid playing that game of “I’ll only be uninsured for a few months and nothing will happen to me”.
- Ending discrimination by insurers against those with preexisting conditions
Why is this important: With the current US economy, many young adults lost their jobs or were unable to find employment. The provisions of the ACA, allow for individuals who have been uninsured for six months and can’t buy private insurance because of a pre-existing condition, the ability to join the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan. Under the new law, no plan can deny coverage to people under age 19 because of a pre-existing condition. Starting in 2014, health insurers will be prohibited from discriminating against anyone due to pre-existing condition
- Covering preventive services like breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screening with no co-pays and no deductibles
Why is this important: Early diagnosis, the key to ensuring a potentially serious condition is addressed in the earlier stages which can save your life in addition to a significant amount of money. Generally, the earlier you begin treatment for a condition, the greater your chance for a full recovery.
Even if you’re in the best shape of your life, you may not present with any evidence of a serious condition that may be lurking inside your body. X-rays, blood tests and other routine screenings are among the only ways to detect the early warning signs. Specific conditions that run in your family, like breast or colon cancer, make it even more important that you get screened early and often to keep healthy.
- Insurers can no longer impose lifetime dollar limits on essential health benefits and annual limits are being phased out by 2014. Also, insurance companies can no longer drop your coverage when you get sick due to a mistake you made on your health insurance application.
Why this is important: No one chooses to have cancer, or any other disease for that matter. To be faced with reaching your lifetime max dollar limit on your healthcare coverage adds undue stress to your current diagnosis. This provision will help to alleviate uneccessary worry and financial burden.
Other positive aspects of the ACA for young adults:
- According to the White House, the ACA “provides premium tax credits for young adults making up to roughly $43,000 a year to ensure that they can afford quality coverage in the new state-based Health Insurance Exchanges which start in 2014.” If you don’t make enough money to buy your own insurance, you can qualify for the hardship waiver.
- The ACA gives financial support for the $12 million National Health Services Corps Students-to-Service Loan Repayment Program, which will provide medical school graduates up to $120,000 to repay outstanding loans if they agree to work as primary care doctors in under-served communities.
The 80/20 Rule Will Improve Campus Health Plans
Most college health centers don’t allow students to use outside insurance plans, however, the services they provide will improve.
Additional information on the ACA can be found at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/healthreform/relief-for-americans-and-businesses
Regardless of your political views and/or opinion on the ruling, the positive outcome it will have for young adults and young adult cancer survivors is undeniable and for that we are excited!
Presiden & CEO