At 26, It’s Time to Be a Real Adult

An Open Letter to My Four Children:

I don’t care what President Obama says, you may not remain on our health care policy until you are 26.

For the record, you also may not move into the basement and install black lights or hang Che Guevara posters (or posters of Barack Obama in the style of Che), nor may you consider our laundry room an intergenerational gathering place.

At 26, you will have been a legal adult for five years and will have obtained an education or professional training. You will have been taught to drive, cook, operate a power drill, call the cable company when the service goes down and, most important, prepare your own income-tax return.

You will be old enough to get married, enter into a binding legal contract, start a business, buy a home and even rent a car.

Twenty-six isn’t terribly old, but it’s old enough to know better. It is not adolescence, no matter what the American Psychological Association says.

Not to worry. We have confidence in you. Adulthood is not as hard as it looks.

Love and kisses, Mom.

Perhaps because the president’s own children are still so young, he doesn’t realize that success in parenting is defined by our children’s independence.

Children seek independence naturally from the time they are toddlers, yelling “All by myself!” at the least interference from an adult.

They follow this instinct as adolescents by lying about their whereabouts, erasing their text messages and wearing styles that makes us cringe with embarrassment.

Nothing is as important as this innate quest for independence because it is the essential element to becoming an adult.

For the sake of our nation’s future, it’s an instinct whose smoldering ashes ought to be fanned, not squelched by the lure of “slackerdom.”

Yet last week at a rally to generate support for his sinking signature health reform bill, Mr. Obama announced with fervor that the plan includes a provision for unmarried adults up to age 26 to be covered on their parents’ policies, irrespective of their educational status or employment.

The “young adults” in Mr. Obama’s audience cheered as if the school principal had just told them they were getting an extra recess, while he smiled with self-satisfaction as if this act of largesse is his right to bestow.

Keep in mind that such coverage isn’t really free. It just feels that way to the president and the young adults who won’t be paying for it.

According to the Commonwealth Fund, a health-policy think tank, Americans age 19 to 29 account for 30 percent of the uninsured. They achieve this status by “aging out” of their parents’ health insurance plans while working in jobs that don’t offer health benefits.

But extending the period of dependency on their parents will only serve to further erode the already-shrinking sense of adulthood among “young adults” while offering no permanent solution to the problem of unaffordability. (Even the moniker young adults implies they’re not the real thing, but rather a less capable version.)

In a free market, insurers should be able to offer health care products designed to meet the needs of consumers of all ages. Given their relative good health, a product for younger adults should be nominal and profitable. But insurers must be free to offer only the coverage this segment wants and needs, not a regulation-saturated policy that offsets their grandparent’s medical bills. Even a caveman can see that.

Given how fast and loose he plays with other people money — specifically the productive fruits of future generations — it’s no surprise that Mr. Obama instead wants parents to underwrite the needs of our adult children.

Twenty-six year-olds are not “kids,” as one liberal commentator on a weekend news program audaciously called them, and mandating that certain adults pay for the insurance of other able-bodied adults — even ones to whom we’re related — is not a mark of a free society.

On the other hand, if Mr. Obama’s audience is any indication, Generation Y is quickly turning into the first fully dependent generation in a Socialist America. Perhaps we ought to call it Generation S.

It’s no wonder the “free” that made this crowd erupt was the promise of a free ride.

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  • momof11

    I suspect this policy will lead to a further decline in population, which seems to be one of the goals of these short-sighted politicians. Look at Europe…most countries below population replacement levels, in great part due to marriage being postponed to later and later ages, which even without contraceptives in the mix, is a cause for greater infertility. But if there are less people born, who is going to pick up the tab for all these programs? If a 26 year-old is unmarried and still lives at home, surely they could at least earn enough to pay for an insurance policy. My son did so when he was still a student at 22 but was “kicked out” of our policy due to age. And he sought a job with insurance benefits. A question I have is if they remain on our policy does that mean we have to pay their bills if they don’t…what a mess!

  • bambushka

    Isn’t this prejudice against those who are married before 26? In all fairness you should not be discriminated against just because you have a spouse. And granchildren?? Shouldn’t they also be on the grandparents insurance? How about the family pet?

  • c-kingsley

    “The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”

  • SMG 62

    I’m afraid that you probably won’t have the option of telling your unmarried adult children that you won’t allow them on your policy. It will eventually be up to the feds. If it costs them more to write a new policy for Little Johnny, then Little Johnny will stay on mom & dad’s policy. Why should an employer provide insurance for our “kids”, either, when the law allows them to stay on our policies? Well, of course there’s a good reason. An employee who values independence and wants to provide for himself is a better catch as an employee, even if the immediate bottom line suggests otherwise. Another thing to consider: if your adult child refuses to be on your policy yet works for a small company that is not required to provide insurance, wouldn’t he or she have to pay the penalty for being uninsured? The feds controlling health care…. what a mess.

  • jpckcmo

    Our daughter is 25, living independently, and working as a middle school math teacher for our city public school system. She is dedicated to working in the inner city and spent a year in New York City on a teaching fellowship, learning the hard way.

    Our district has just announced that they are closing half the schools and “letting go” 258 teachers. Hopefully, some of those will be retirees and natural attrition. However, I don’t hold out much hope that my daughter, with three years of experience, will survive the purge, even though she raised her students’ test scores on the practice test by almost 30 points. Since all districts in the metropolitan area are also laying off teachers, her prospects for finding another teaching job are slim.

    Of course, if she does lose her job she will lose her health insurance. She is not a slacker, not someone who avoids responsibility and independence. She has worked since she was 16 years old, worked all through college, and wants to work now. She will do “something,” but it probably won’t have health insurance. If my husband and I can insure her for a year, until she can find a job with coverage, of course we will. And I will gladly pay a higher premium so that your 25-year-old can have it, too.