Justice Scalia, expressing his deep concern for young people during hearing on the health care law:
SOLICITOR GENERAL VERILLI: To live in the modern world, everybody needs a telephone. And the — the same thing with respect to the — you know, the dairy price supports that — that the court upheld in Wrightwood Dairy and Rock Royal. You can look at those as disadvantageous contracts, as forced transfers, that — you know, I suppose it’s theoretically true that you could raise your kids without milk, but the reality is you’ve got to go to the store and buy milk. And the commerce power — as a result of the exercise of the commerce power, you’re subsidizing somebody else –
JUSTICE KAGAN: And this is especially true, isn’t it, General –
VERRILLI: — because that’s the judgment Congress has made.
KAGAN: — Verrilli, because in this context, the subsidizers eventually become the subsidized?
VERRILLI: Well, that was the point I was trying to make, Justice Kagan, that you’re young and healthy one day, but you don’t stay that way. And the — the system works over time. And so I just don’t think it’s a fair characterization of it. And it does get back to, I think — a problem I think is important to understand –
JUSTICE SCALIA: We’re not stupid. They’re going to buy insurance later. They’re young and — and need the money now.
VERRILLI: But that’s –
As the country gears up for implementation of the major provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), this month’s Kaiser Health Tracking Poll takes a step back and examines views on health insurance more broadly among some key subgroups, including young adults, the uninsured, and those with pre-existing conditions. The poll finds that the large majority of Americans want and value health insurance. More than seven in ten young adults – a special focus of outreach and enrollment efforts – say it is very important to them personally to have insurance. Cost remains the biggest barrier for the uninsured, with four in ten citing the expense of coverage as the main reason they don’t have it. Roughly half of those under age 65 believe they or a household member has what would be considered a pre-existing condition, and a quarter of them say they have either been denied insurance or had their premium increased as a result. With the expected marketing effort for the ACA’s health exchanges still not in full swing, negative views of the law continue to outpace positive views, with 43 percent unfavorable and 35 percent favorable. However, unfavorable views are a mix of those who feel the law goes “too far” in changing the health care system (33 percent) and those who feel it “doesn’t go far enough” (8 percent). The poll also shows that differences in how the law is branded may make a difference in how it is perceived by the public. When asked how they feel about “Obamacare” rather than the “health reform law,” higher shares express both favorable (42 percent) and unfavorable (47 percent) views, and Democrats are more enthusiastic.
Among the public overall, 87 percent say it is “very important” to them personally to have health insurance, 88 percent describe health insurance as “something I need,” and two-thirds (68 percent) say insurance is worth the money it costs.
Even among younger adults – a group that many have speculated may be resistant to getting coverage under the ACA – more than seven in ten rate having health insurance as “very important,” and similar shares feel it is something they need and that it is worth the money. Overall, just a quarter of those ages 18-30 feel they are healthy enough to go without insurance.
An advocacy group called “Young Invincibles” argued exactly this during the health care debate. They even submitted a brief to the Court with polling info that came out roughly same as that quoted above, but apparently Scalia didn’t read it.