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Monday, February 15, 2010

Young invincibles? Hardly...

After 4 years of hard work, the day finally came for me to get my college diploma. Though I was proud of my accomplishment, I knew that the second I received my diploma, I lost my health insurance. After commencement, there was a long period of time when I was without coverage. Unfortunately, this is not uncommon. My fellow classmates and other graduating students across the country began their lives in the "real world" without insurance.

As a group, young adults have been largely ignored in the health reform debate, even though they have the most gain. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation,

Young adults, age 19 to 29, have the highest uninsured rate of any age group in the United States. Members of this age group comprise 30 percent of the overall uninsured population.

Whether it is because of a recent graduation, moving, finding a new job, or having to wait for employer benefits to kick in, young adults are at high risk of financial devastation if they become sick.

The Kaiser Family Foundation report goes on to explain how health reform could help this vulnerable population. By providing more affordable coverage in the private market, more young people would be able to purchase coverage. Furthermore, by allowing children to stay on their parents' insurance until 26 or 27 gives young adults a cushion as figure out where and how to get their own coverage.

I wish I had the protections that either the House or Senate bill offers young adults. I rolled the dice and went without coverage for a long time, and luckily made it through unharmed. Many other "young invincibles" are not so lucky.