Raising Women’s Voices

Giving Testimony at New York City Council’s Public Hearing–Personal Story

Posted in Personal Stories by raisingwomensvoices on April 30, 2009

On Thursday, April 23rd, the New York City Council held a public hearing concerning young adults and health insurance. I was fortunate enough to give testimony at this hearing since, as a young adult myself, the quandary of affordable, accessible health care is an important and relevant issue for me.

By now, it feels as if most of us–whether through involvement in the healthcare sphere or as a consumer being warned, cautioned, shocked or outraged–can tick off the statistics. Even if we don’t know exact numbers, we know the facts: that it’s the young adults, women in particular, aged 19-29 that are struggling with insurance, specifically that we have a 30% uninsurance rate, double working adults over age 30; that on our 19th birthdays, we enter a whole new health insurance game where we’re no longer covered as children; that when we graduate, we’re no longer under our school’s plan–if we were ever offered one; that, too early, we age out of our parents’ plan–if we were lucky enough to be covered by it in the first place.

Young adults, without the contagiousness of being a child, or the frailty of being an “adult” adult, are widely considered the “healthiest” age group. And maybe we are. But that not why we have such high rates of uninsurance. It’s because insurance is too expensive and too inaccessible for us–with our temporary, part-time, low-paying or non-insurance providing positions.

We are not, as we are so often called, “young invincibles”. We need primary care, we need preventative care, we need dental, mental and reproductive health care. At an age when many of us become parents for the first time, we need care to ensure the possibility of a safe pregnancy, adequate pre-natal care, and post-delivery care as well.

Most in attendance at the public hearing testified about the numbers, the issues, compared NY to other states where the age young adults phase out of their parents’ plan is higher, and offered some possible solutions. I was one of the few who got to share my story–to relay my own healthcare struggle as a young adult.

To keep it simple: I was diagnosed with diabetes when I was four years old. I take excellent care of myself and have a wonderful support system. But to the health insurance world, I’m just another pre-existing condition. A risk. And so I, a perfect example of needing health insurance, have to work harder, jump through more hoops, and pay more for health insurance than your average young invincible.

It’s my hope that along with the other young women who shared their stories, that our personal struggles put faces to this issue, and helped stress the need for action, for a significant change in healthcare policy. With Obama being elected, we’re talking a lot about change, and appearing open to policy reform along with the myriad of personal struggles being shared. What’s needed now, though, is definitive action. A response that proves that healthcare is truly a right, rather than a difficult to navigate privilege.

rwv-and-phnayc-009That’s me, giving testimony!

rwv-and-phnayc-010Councilman Joel Rivera

Sara Siegel

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