Health care ruling: Young Oklahomans relieved by health care ruling

Young adults caught between college and professional careers said extending eligibility under their parents' health insurance plans will give them the time they need to get on their feet.
BY ZEKE CAMPFIELD zcampfield@opubco.com Modified: June 28, 2012 at 9:39 pm •  Published: June 29, 2012

Young professionals in Oklahoma said Tuesday's health care ruling will provide much needed relief during the unnerving years between college and professional work.

Among the many tenets of the Affordable Care Act — signed into law in 2010, but now getting approval from the U.S. Supreme Court — is one that mandates people up to age 26 can stay on their parents' health insurance policies.

Samantha Shaughnessy, a 23-year-old package handler at a UPS Store in Oklahoma City, said she is happy to put off the burden of expensive health care premiums until her college loans are retired and she is better situated in a career.

“It's helpful that I will be able to graduate in December, find a full-time job and that it's not going to be crunch time,” Shaughnessy said. “It gives me at least three more years before I have to get too serious about insurance and stuff.”

The requirement that insurance companies extend coverage to dependents of policy holders up to age 26 became law in 2010. But had the Supreme Court decided differently on Tuesday, many of those who became eligible then might have been ruled ineligible once again.

Shaughnessy, who will graduate with a broadcasting degree from University of Central Oklahoma, said she does not currently qualify for health insurance through her employer because she works part-time. If she were dropped from her parents' coverage plan, she likely would have no health insurance at all.

“For the most part, until I can get a consistent full-time job … I will pay a portion of my premium, but my parents pay the rest,” she said.

Edmond resident Stacey Saunders said she paid $150 each month for health insurance for about three years after she turned 19. When she re-enrolled at UCO three years ago, she was again eligible for coverage under her mom's health insurance plan.

Now 24 and looking forward to graduation in the spring, Saunders said she is relieved her coverage will be extended another year.

“In your early 20s you're still trying to establish yourself financially, and it's the little things you can save money on,” she said. “It's really hard when you're a student and you're trying to pay all of your other bills.”