Local reaction to federal health care reform law

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The new federal health care reform law is bringing relief to the many young adults who can't afford health insurance. One provision allows people up to age 26 to stay on their parents health plans.

More than one million Virginians are uninsured. 16 percent fall into the age bracket that will benefit from the newly signed law.

20 year old Diana Subkhangulova does her best to stay healthy. Right now, the VCU student is uninsured.

"My concerns are just getting into an accident or something like that, and having to go to the hospital," said Diana Subkhangulova.

According to the Virginia Health Care Foundation, out of the more than one million uninsured people in the state, 170,000 are 19 to 24 years old. But with President Obama's signing of the health care reform bill, in as few as six months, young adults can stay on their parents health insurance up to 26 years old.

"To have uninsured people is always a bad thing. Health emergencies happen and you have to go to the doctor, so I think the more people we can give health insurance to the better," said Jared Murphy, a VCU student.  

Virginia Health Care Foundation Executive Director, Debbie Oswalt, says while there's a definite need for medical coverage among young adults, it's not often a priority.

"When most kids graduate from college they've got a lot of debt, they have limited income cause they're not at the peek of their earning, so when they have choices about to spend their money they typically don't think about spending it on health insurance," said Oswalt.

When Diana isn't feeling well, she turns to the VCU student health clinic, which fortunately for her she says is affordable.

"I don't usually go to the doctors and when I get sick I just kind of ride it out," said  Subkhangulova.

Oswalt says the Virginia Health Care Foundation was created 18 years ago as a General Assembly initiative with a mission to increase access to the uninsured. She says this bill will definitely help them reach their goals.

Copyright 2010 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.