We Are Young, Not Invincible

Last week 22-year-old Kimberly Young lost her life because of our broken health care system. She contracted H1N1 flu, a virus that should not be fatal to the young and healthy when treated, yet it took her life because she was uninsured and worried about being able to pay for treatment:

Kimberly became ill about two weeks ago, but didn’t seek care initially because she didn’t have health insurance and was worried about the cost, according to Brent Mowery, her friend and former roommate.

“That’s the most tragic part about it. If she had insurance, she would have gone to the doctor,” Mowery said.

Many politicians and the media seem hell-bent on portraying young Americans as kids who think they are invincible. We may be young, but we know we are not invincible. We have seen our friends severely injured in car accidents, contract illnesses, and get cancer. We have seen sickness. We have seen death. We have seen lives shattered because they are buried in health care debt before those adult lives even began.

We are not being called invincible because we don’t think anything can happen to us. We are being called invincible because it helps those who are older than us that deny us health insurance reform rationalize the devastating effect it has on us. Young people don’t choose to be uninsured because they think they are invincible, the issue is that health insurance is not accessible to young people at an affordable rate.

Kimberly Young wasn’t the first young American to die needlessly in our health insurance morass, and unless real health insurance reform with a public option is passed, she certainly won’t be the last.