A 22-year-old woman from Oxford, Ohio, died from swine flu on Wednesday. Kimberly Young graduated from Miami University in December and continued to live in Oxford, Ohio, within Minority Leader John Boehner’s congressional distrct. Reports now indicate that after initially getting sick, Young put off treatment because she was uninsured:
Young became ill about two weeks ago, but didn’t seek care initially because she didn’t have health insurance and was worried about the cost, according to Brent Mowery, her friend and former roommate. […]
On Tuesday, Sept. 22, Young’s condition suddenly worsened and her roommate drove her to McCullough Hyde Memorial Hospital in Oxford, where she was flown in critical condition to University Hospital in Cincinnati.
“That’s the most tragic part about it. If she had insurance, she would have gone to the doctor,” Mowery said.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 30 percent of 19-24 year olds are uninsured, more than any other group. Despite the conservative argument that young people are voluntarily refusing health coverage in favor of extra spending money, the reality is that high costs on the individual market put coverage out of reach. As Suzy Khimm notes at Campus Progress, young people “are far more likely to be working part-time or lower-paying jobs for employers who don’t offer coverage”:
In its 2008 study, the Commonwealth Fund found that 66 percent of young adults aged 19 to 29 who experienced a time without coverage in the past year said they had gone without it because of the cost. […]
Young people might have a better chance of accessing comprehensive coverage if there were a public plan, which could lower the cost of insurance, particularly for those without good employer benefits. Young people may also have a better chance at coverage if there were generous subsidies for lower-income individuals, as many take lower-paying jobs when they first enter the workforce.
Even though Boehner represents a large university, he has been an outspoken opponent of a public option that would make insurance cheaper and more accessible to recent graduates like Young. On Meet the Press last week, the Minority Leader continued to stick to the obstructionist Frank Luntz-endorsed talking points, dismissing the public option as “big government” while defending a watered-down plan.
TPM writes, “Still, if Young’s lack of insurance did contribute to her not seeking treatment sooner, it would be hard to find a
starker or more compelling example of the need to fix our broken health insurance system. And the fact that she was a constituent of the man who’s leading House Republicans’ in their effort to block reform only underlines the point.”