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Health reform proposals could help 13 million uninsured young adults gain coverage
Date:8/15/2009

chool graduates who do not go on to college, and one-third of college graduates, experience a time uninsured in the year following graduation. As new entrants to the labor force, young adults are less likely than older adults to find jobs that come with health benefits, and are thus left to purchase health plans on their own in the individual insurance market, without the financial help of employer premium contributions.

The report analyzes how reforms such as those currently under discussion in Congress would affect young adults: Some proposals would allow young adults to remain on their parents' health plans until they are 26 years old; young adults in lower-income households, who represent nearly 70 percent of all uninsured young adults, would be eligible for Medicaid or sliding scale premium subsidies to purchase health plans through a health insurance exchange. Such policies would enable young adults to maintain health insurance through key life transition points when many experience gaps in their coverage.

Young adults who experience breaks in their coverage face a number of risks: about half (49%) of those who spend a time uninsured report medical bill problems or medical debt, just 41 percent have a regular doctor compared to 79 percent of insured young adults, and two-thirds (66%) of young adults who were uninsured for some period of time during the year went without needed medical care because of cost. While young adults are healthier as a group than older adults, about 15 percent have a chronic health problem such as asthma, more than half weigh more than what is considered to be a healthy weight, there are 2.7 million births to women in this age group, and young adults have the highest incidence of injury related visits to the emergency room of any age group.

"Loss of health insurance coverage impedes young adults' access to the health system at precisely the time they should be establishing their own relationships with ph
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Contact: Mary Mahon
mm@cmwf.org
212-606-3853
Commonwealth Fund
Source:Eurekalert

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