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To Those Who Think Young Unemployed People on Their Parents' Health Benefits Are 'Lazy'

A few weeks ago I received a call from a compassionate young woman who wanted to feature my story in a piece for The Guardian U.S. The feature would focus on young men and woman who, due to illness, were reliant on their parents’ health insurance until the age of 26. As a young individual diagnosed with a fatal illness at 20 and unable to provide adequate health insurance myself, I was a perfect candidate for her interview.

girl in dress with oxygen tank

I was ecstatic when I was given the chance to share the struggle seriously ill individuals face upon losing their parents’ health benefits they so desperately rely on. We had a great conversation, and the story was published a few weeks later. This piece was supposed to been an opportunity to shed light on a group of individuals that falls through the health care cracks; but unfortunately, I feel the post turned into a stomping ground for hate.

I was shocked to find the feature never mentioned my inability to establish a solid work position resulting in health benefits due to my illness. As I read further into the piece, I was even more baffled to find my quotes were fragmented, and the feature was missing critical details about my health circumstances. My entire story had been altered, leaving the general theme of the piece in shambles.

Unfortunately, this led to a vast misinterpretation that millennials are too lazy to establish their lives between the ages of 18 and 26 and are nothing but entitled socialists. I was beyond disappointed to see comments such as:

“Man I wish my parents had health coverage I could be on. Poor 26-year-olds who had eight f*****g years to establish, find a job, and live off mom and dad. How will they manage.” 

“Get a job with your own benefits… Pretty simple.”

“Alexander the Great conquered the world by 25. You think these people could get a job by 26. A pampered worthless generation …”

“If you’re not employed by 26 you should be in jail, unemployed, or certifiably insane…”**

What this featured failed to mention is that extremely ill patients don’t get ages 18 to 26 to establish their lives, attend college, and find a career that would provide benefits. We spend those years in hospital beds, operating rooms and infusion chairs. Many of us desperately want a normal life, an education, a profession, but we aren’t given that choice. We have to watch our peers flourish, while we slowly deteriorate.

In my opinion, what this feature also should have included is the lack of disability inclusion in the workplace. Even if a patient like myself was able to physically work, what’s the likelihood of someone hiring a bald woman on a feeding tube, requiring supplemental oxygen, who can’t stand for more than 10 minutes, or lift anything over a few pounds? Don’t forget this employer would have to approve 15-plus days off a month for doctors’ appointments, and at least one full week off a month for chemotherapy.

While there are supposed to be laws that provide disability inclusion, a recent study conducted by Microsoft found they haven’t been effective. Their statistics showed that disabled individuals with master’s degrees were employed at only 47 percent while able-bodied adults with master’s degrees were employed at 87 percent. The study also showed that many individuals hide their disabilities from employers to gain fair opportunity — what about those of us who cant hide our disability? Fair opportunity in the workplace seems to be nothing but a myth.

So, to the downright vile comments expressing those of us receiving health insurance from our parents until the age of 26 are lazy, entitled, or dumb, I have news for you: Being seriously ill is not a choice. We would much rather be working a traditional 9 to 5 with health benefits than watching cars pass by through a hospital room window.

Yes, I am a 24-year-old relying on her parents’ health insurance, terrified of her 26th birthday — because I have no other choice. Remember, those of us battling illness didn’t ask for this, and it is not our fault. We are anything but lazy, entitled, unemployed socialistsWe are strong, resilient individuals with families who love and support us. 

**This passage has been modified for clarity.

Follow this journey on The Tube-Fed Wife.

The Mighty is asking the following: Describe a moment you were met with extreme negativity or adversity related to your disability and/or disease (or a loved one’s) and why you were proud of your response — or how you wish you could’ve responded. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images