According to a recent survey the young adults between the ages of 19 - 29 are the fastest-growing age group among the uninsured. The report by the Commonwealth Fund, a private research foundation// that focuses on health and social issues claim that in 2004, nearly 14 million Americans between 19 and 29 years old were uninsured, which was an increase of 2.5 million since the year 2000.
The findings that were based on the data from government and Commonwealth Fund surveys suggest that at the age of 19 or just after graduation from high school or colleges in the youngsters were crucial turning points in young Americans’ health coverage, as at these ages, private and public health plans often cut off benefits to them.
It was explained that dependents that were covered under their parents’ employer-sponsored insurance are usually dropped at age 18 or 19 if they are not full-time students. Similarly, the low-income teenagers insured under Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) would lose their coverage at age 19 unless they were to qualify for Medicaid as adults. Dr. Sara R. Collins, who is a senior program officer at The Commonwealth Fund, ad the lead author explained that this does not usually happens as the program’s requirements have become stricter. She went on to explain as a result of this the health coverage problem is most acute among low-income young adults, who often do not attend college and frequently have jobs with no health benefits.
It is generally argued by many employers that many young people believe that they are invincible and hence choose not to buy any insurance. Instead they argue that the younger generation prefer to save their income for other seemingly urgent and important purchases. But the study disagrees with this as well; it found that 70 percent of new college graduates purchase insurance when they have the option, a rate only slightly lower than other age groups.
The study suggests that by expanding the safety net for the youths by increasing the maximum age for Medicaid and SCHIP might help the young adults get health insurance and keep it. Some states have recently passed laws extending the age at which young people are no longer considered dependents for insurance purposes to as old as 25. Ron Pollack, executive director of consumer healthcare advocacy group Families USA, feels that the solution would lie in making the sources of coverage that already exist more inclusive to young adults. He explained that they would have to build on the two pillars of healthcare coverage that already exist today: employer-provided coverage and safety-net coverage.
There is mounting evidence that young adults are willing to pay for insurance if it is offered with the right benefits at the right price.
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