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Young adults at risk: 13.7 million lack health insurance coverage
Date:5/29/2008

ff medical debt over time.

Nearly 60 percent of employers who offer coverage do not insure dependent children over age 18 or 19 if they do not attend college. Thirty-nine percent of young adults ages 19 to 23 who either do not attend college or only attend part-time are uninsured, compared with 17 percent of full-time students.

In the face of these challenges, new efforts on both the state and federal level to cover young adults are gaining momentum. Twenty states have passed legislation requiring insurance companies to extend dependent coverage to young adults older than 18 or 19. The new age limits range from 24 in Delaware, Indiana, and South Dakota to 30 in New Jersey. In addition, a recently introduced congressional bill would extend health insurance to dependent children of federal workers to age 25.

Because a majority of uninsured young adults have low incomes, extending eligibility for Medicaid and SCHIP beyond age 18 would also be an important policy solution for covering this group, the authors say. Such an expansion would have the biggest impact in terms of lowering the number of uninsured young adults. Extending eligibility to age 25, for example, would cover up to 7.6 million uninsured young adults living in households with incomes below 200 percent of poverty.

State-level efforts to cover young adults are very important and will help many young adults as they transition to the labor force, said Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis. However, most uninsured young adults do not have access to affordable private coverage through their parents plans. Extending Medicaid and SCHIP coverage beyond age 18 has the potential to make a real difference in the lives of young adults and their families.

In addition, the authors suggest that states could help extend coverage by ensuring that colleges and universities require health coverage and offer insurance to their full-time and part-time students. This option cou
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Contact: Mary Mahon
mm@cmwf.org
212-606-3853
Commonwealth Fund
Source:Eurekalert

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