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Does My Insurance Leave Me Naked?

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Originally published on Youthradio.org, the premier source for youth generated news throughout the globe.

By: Emily Beaver

As a California resident who buys insurance from the individual market (although not from Anthem Blue Cross), I think providing more protections for people like me is a good move.

I'm 26, and like many young Americans, I work full time but don't get health insurance through my job. Even though I have insurance, sometimes I feel like I'm uninsured. Because I buy my own insurance from the individual market, I can't be sure that my insurer won't drop me from my plan if I actually get sick or mail me a letter that my premiums are going up by 40 percent, like the letter hundreds of thousands of Californians got hit with recently.

Before I bought my own insurance plan, I was uninsured for about five months. Last year, I lost my group health insurance coverage when I left my job at a health care publishing company to move to California to be closer to my boyfriend and his family. As a writer who had covered the health care industry and health care reform, I knew that it's a crapshoot for people who buy their own health insurance - they don't get the same protections as people who get group insurance through an employer.

I am young and don't have any pre-existing conditions, so insurers were happy to offer me plans at reasonable rates. But what worried me more was the practice of recission, which happens when insurance companies drop people who get sick. Plus I was reluctant to pay premiums when I couldn't be sure that my plan would actually cover health care if I needed it.

I wonder if some uninsured consumers asked the same question I did: Is it better to spend hundreds of dollars every month on insurance that could ultimately be worthless, or is it better to be uninsured? I eventually did buy my own insurance.

Young adults are more likely to be uninsured than people in other age groups because we're more likely to work in jobs don't that offer insurance, usually aren't eligible for government insurance programs like Medicare and Medicaid, and may get dropped from our parents' health insurance plans before we get our own coverage.

The health reform plans Congress has proposed try to close some of these gaps with measures like extending Medicaid coverage to childless young adults and requiring insurance companies to cover adults up to age 26 as dependents under their parents' insurance plans.

Without a public option, the individual insurance market will be the only alternative for many middle-class Americans to get health insurance. Congress needs to make sure people who buy their own insurance get the care they pay for.

Youth Radio/Youth Media International (YMI) is youth-driven converged media production company that delivers the best youth news, culture and undiscovered talent to a cross section of audiences. To read more youth news from around the globe and explore high quality audio and video features, visit Youthradio.org