Before interning at the National Women’s Law Center I did not know much or really anything at all about the health care law. Furthermore, I didn’t know that my family was benefitting from it, especially my sister who recently graduated from college.

For the last 6 months, I’ve also been able to observe my sister, Alex’s, transition from college to the real world. After graduating from Dartmouth College in 2011, she decided to work in the non-profit sector. She accepted a one-year fellowship in New York City. Alex moved from New Hampshire to New York on a tight budget, and a small wage, specifically less than $35,000 a year.

Between spending $1,000 a month for rent, plus additional bills for groceries, utilities, and taxes, Alex is not exactly living the life of luxury. While her employer offered health insurance, the plan wasn’t affordable on her salary, and would make a significant dent in her earnings. Many young professionals in Alex’s position would simply elect to forego health insurance to save money. I am sure this would have been the case with my sister if it were not for the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The ACA requires plans to cover dependents up to age 26. Plans sold in the individual health insurance market must cover dependents whether or not the dependent has an offer of employment based coverage. Group plans, like my parent’s health plan, only have to cover dependents who don’t have an offer of employment based coverage. But, because of the ACA, some employers decided to allow dependents, like my sister, to stay on their parent’s insurance, even though she has a plan offered by her employer.

Many young people are able to compare employer offered health insurance to their parents’ plan, and choose which one is best for them. Since this provision went into effect in 2010 approximately 2.5 million uninsured young adults received health care coverage. Alex opted to stay on my parent’s health insurance. Because of the influence of the ACA, she is able to stay on my parents’ insurance until she is 26 or finds a job that offers health care that is affordable on her salary.  

With graduation fast approaching in 2013, I will soon begin my job search. Chances are I will be entering the job market with a fairly low salary. Thanks to the ACA I will not have to struggle to find and pay for health insurance, but instead will have the security to know that I can stay on my parent’s insurance.

To find out how you benefit from the ACA, check out our factsheets

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