DOVER - MacKenzie Flessas fits the profile of someone who should have benefited from staying on her parents' insurance policy as she worked her way through the University of New Hampshire and started her own young family, except for one problem: Her parents lost their health insurance when her father lost his job of 30 years.
In his mid-50s, he was laid off four years ago from a Salem-based equipment manufacturing company when Flessas was in her senior year of high school at Coe-Brown Northwood Academy in Northwood. Her mother, a real estate agent, had no benefits at work.
As a student at UNH, Flessas was required to have health insurance and had to purchase a policy through the university, the cost of which was added to her student loans.
She views the advent of Obamacare's critical year in 2014 from the perspective of her parents, her boyfriend and her 2-month-old son. Nothing that's been implemented so far in the law has helped any of them, but Flessas holds out hope for the future.
She hopes her parents will be able to purchase insurance on the online marketplace with a federal subsidy, given their age and income level, or benefit from the expansion of Medicaid, if the state decides to take that step.
She hopes her boyfriend, the father of her son, will have the same opportunities, as he gets no insurance at his job as a restaurant cook.
And she has applied to have her infant son, Lucas, accepted into N.H. Healthy Kids, the state's health insurance program for children, since the cost of family coverage at work would eat up most of her paycheck.
Among her family, friends and cohorts, she is somewhat of an anomaly - employed in a job that matches her degree, with good health insurance from her employer, the Every Child Matters Education Fund, a Concord-based advocacy group focused on children's issues.
Yet she is surrounded by the uninsured, including not just her parents and boyfriend, but also her brother, sister-in-law and their three young sons who live in Nashua, and most of her friends.
"Even if they are employed in their field, they probably aren't insured," she said. "It's amazing how many jobs don't offer benefits. My boyfriend works full time as a cook for a restaurant, working 40 hours a week plus, and has no health insurance."
Approximately 28.4 percent of Americans 25 to 34 have no health insurance, according to federal statistics, making them the largest uninsured group in the nation.
The main issue keeping young people from obtaining insurance is cost, Flessas said, not a sense of invincibility: "I don't know anyone who says, 'I don't need health insurance.' I think everyone wants coverage and benefits and that most people just can't afford it. If you are going to buy a personal plan now, it's like taking out a mortgage."
She acknowledges it will take years to reverse a trend in health care and insurance costs that has been decades in the making, if not for this generation, then hopefully for the next.
"I want Lucas to not have to pay a ridiculous premium for health insurance," she said. "I want employers to offer it to him, at some cost to him. I think that's fair. I just want to make sure that he's able to feel that he can see a doctor if he needs to and not have to worry about a bill that he can't pay afterward; that he can be healthy and his family can be healthy."