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Friday, July 2, 2010

'Young Invincibles' to get better coverage

Kate Blocher

Staff Writer

One of the earliest and most popular provisions of the Affordable Care Act is the provision that allows young adults to stay on their family’s health coverage until age 26. This is expected to help many graduating college and high school seniors—but it will also help hundreds of 20-somethings who are currently uninsured because they were not able to stay on their parents’ plan. Our fact sheet explains the details.

According to the Young Invincibles, a group committed to making sure young people are heard in the debate about the future of our health care system and our country, “[i]n 2009, the number of uninsured young adults climbed to 18.9 million people, accounting for approximately one-third of the total uninsured population.”

By allowing young adults to stay on their parent’s coverage through the age of 26, the new law is expected to put a large dent in the number of uninsured. According to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, “over 1 million young adults can keep or get coverage at an affordable level” due to the expansion of coverage to young adults.

Despite the misconception that young adults tend to be healthier than their middle-aged or senior counterparts and therefore do not need health insurance, they are still very susceptible to illness and injury.. In fact, [y]oung adults have the highest rate of injury-related emergency department visits among all age groups,” and “15 percent of young adults have a chronic health condition.” As a result, many of these young adults end up saddled with medical debt that follows them for the rest of their lives.

Even for those young adults who know it’s necessary to be covered by health insurance, finding affordable, quality coverage is not always easy. According to Young Invicibles, “Only 53% of young adults are eligible for the health insurance offered by their employers” and trying to buy insurance on the individual market can often be an expensive undertaking, not easily conquered by a group that typically “earn[s] less, on average, than those who are older, and ha[s] higher rates of unemployment.”

With the passing of the Affordable Care Act, thousands of young adults will finally have the security of staying on their family coverage, not only putting a significant dent in the number of uninsured young adults but in the overall number of uninsured. And over the coming years, as other provisions like the Medicaid expansion and insurance exchanges are enacted, millions more young adults will finally have access to affordable, quality insurance, which will let them have a brighter future.

 

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