Tuesday, December 22, 2009

capsDo young adults go without insurance because they feel invincible? A report from the Commonwealth Fund suggests the answer is more complicated, and based heavily in circumstances and finances.
Some 13.7 million adults aged 19 to 29 lacked health insurance in 2006, up from 13.3 million in 2005, according to the Commonwealth Fund. Even though they make up 17% of the under-65 population, young adults account for nearly 30% of the non-elderly uninsured.
Here are some ways they end up with no coverage:

Money: More than 40% of uninsured young adults live in households with incomes below the poverty level.
Age: A 19th birthday can be an unhappy occasion when it comes to insurance. It often means young adults lose coverage under their parents’ employer-sponsored plans or even government programs such as Medicaid, which have tougher requirements for enrollment once you’re not a kid any more. College graduation is another shaky time when it comes to coverage. (For tips on getting coverage when times are tough, see this and this WSJ article.)
Employment status: Many young adults have temporary or part-time jobs or work for small employers. Often that means no health benefits. Young workers also tend to job hop and go without insurance during gaps in employment.
While the situation of young without coverage may not be as dire as it is for the 50-to-64 set, it’s hardly trivial. Some sobering statistics the Commonwealth Fund offers: Fourteen percent of adults aged 18 to 29 are obese. There are 3.5 million pregnancies a year among women 19 to 29. One third of HIV diagnoses are among young adults. Injury-related visits to the E.R. are more common among young adults than children or older adults. More than 20,000 people with congenital heart disease turn 19 each year.
There have been a variety of efforts to get the young covered, including insurers tailoring sparser and cheaper plans to them and some states letting twentysomethings stay on parents’ plans.


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