Guinea pigs

By DAVID S. BERNSTEIN  |  October 31, 2007

Other federal legislation could do even more to help individuals comply with state-mandated health coverage, by providing revenue to subsidize the insurance plans in the form of vouchers or tax credits. “States cannot cough up all the money to help people afford insurance,” says Trueman, who favors federal help to bring those costs down.

In a way, the young uninsured might end up better off down the line if they don’t respond well to the mandate now facing them. If the sign-up goes smoothly, there will be less reason for the government to enact these kinds of changes. If the sign-up proves extremely difficult, there could be many more calls for incentives that make individual insurance cheaper.

Or, the government could decide to just give up on uninsured young adults, and let them opt out of “universal” health care. One way or the other, young hipsters and go-getters are having their moment in the public-policy spotlight, whether they know it or not.

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