On the federal level, a law has been proposed that would have dependent children of government workers covered to age 25.
Extending the age limit for federal programs such as Medicaid would have the greatest impact, because such programs cover poorer people, Collins said. "This is a problem facing people at all income levels, but the largest number of uninsured are in lower income families," she said. Raising the age limit for those programs would cover up to 7.6 million uninsured young adults in families with incomes below 200 percent of poverty, the report said.
States could help by having the colleges and universities that they fund offer insurance to students, both full time and part time, the report said.
The issue calls for a public-private approach, said Robert Zirkelbach, spokesman for America's Health Insurance Plans, a group in Washington, D.C., that represents 1,300 insurers covering 200 million Americans.
The organization has made several proposals about better coverage for younger adults, including expansion of Medicaid to cover all members of a family, Zerkelbach said.
"We need to make health-care coverage more affordable," he said. "That has to be done by reducing the underlying costs of medical care."
Learn about Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
SOURCES: Sara Collins, Ph.D., assistant vice president, Commonwealth Fund, New York City; Robert Zirkelbach, spokesman, America's Health Insurance Plans, Washington, D.C.; May 30, 2006, Rite of Passa
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