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Some groups predict even higher increases in premiums for younger individuals -- as much as 50 percent, says Landon Gibbs of ShoutAmerica, a Tennessee-based nonprofit aimed at mobilizing young people on health care issues, particularly rising costs.
Gibbs, 27, a former White House aide under President George W. Bush, founded the bipartisan group with former hospital chain executive Clayton McWhorter, now chairman of a private equity firm. McWhorter finances the organization. The group did not oppose health care reform, but stressed issues like how health care inflation threatens the future of Medicare.
"We don't want to make this a generational war, but we want to make sure young adults are informed," Gibbs says.
Young people who supported Barack Obama in 2008 may come to resent how health care reform will affect them, Gibbs and others say. Recent polls show support among young voters eroding since they helped elect Obama president.
Jim Schreiber, 24, was once an Obama supporter but now isn't so sure. The Chicagoan works in a law firm and has his own tea importing business.
He pays $120 a month for health insurance, "probably pure profit for my insurance company," he says. Without a powerhouse lobbying group, like AARP for older adults, young adults' voices have been muted, he says. He's been discouraged by the health care debate.
"It has made me disillusioned with the Democrats," he said.
Ari Matusiak, 33, a Georgetown University law student, founded Young Invincibles with other Obama campaign volunteers to rally youth support for health care overhaul.
Age rating fails as a wedge issue because the pluses of the new law outweigh the minuses for young adults, Matusiak says.
"And we're not going to be 26, 27, 33 forever," Matusiak says. "Guess what? We're going to be in a different demographic soon enough."
Nationally representative surveys for the Kaiser Family Foundation have consistently found that young adults are more likely than senior citizens to say they would be willing to pay more so that more Americans could be insured. But whether that generosity will endure isn't clear.
"The government approach of -- we'll just make someone get health care and pay for someone else -- definitely NOT what I want," says Melissa Kaupke, 28, who is uninsured and works from her Nashville home.
In Chicago, Higdon says he supports the principles of the health care overhaul, even if it means he will pay more as a young man to smooth out premium costs for everyone.
"Hopefully I'll be old someday, barring some catastrophic event. And the likelihood of me being old is less if I don't have a good health plan."
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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