Friday, November 13, 2009

Rite Of Passage: The Plight Of Uninsured Young Adults

(NAPSI)-The health insurance coverage issue may uncover some surprises for certain Americans.

One segment of the population that's particularly affected by the uninsured problem is young adults between the ages of 19 and 29. They represent 31 percent of the nation's uninsured.

What a Difference a Year Makes

Young adults usually begin with health insurance coverage under their parents' plan or a public insurance program. But the 19th birthday is a crucial milestone for the health coverage of many young adults in the U.S.

Public programs such as Medicaid usually end eligibility at the 19th birthday. Employer-sponsored health insurance plans often won't cover young adults as dependents under their parents' policy after 19 years of age unless they are enrolled in college.

Young people, even working full-time, may not be offered or able to afford health insurance. Others believe in their own "invincibility" when it comes to future health concerns.

The Myth of the Not-So "Invincibles"

Actually, young adults are more susceptible to some illnesses than any other population. Over 40 percent of uninsured young adults have characterized their health as only fair or poor.

To address the problem, health care reform legislation includes a variety of provisions to help young Americans gain quality, affordable coverage, including proposals to allow young adults to remain on their parents' insurance through the age of 27. Young adults could also benefit from proposed sizable tax credits. According to a report by Jonathan Gruber of MIT, the tax credits could save young adults as much as $685 off their health insurance premiums.

It is time that all Americans, regardless of age, receive timely, affordable, quality health care. It is time for the enactment of systemwide health care reform that provides coverage to all citizens, slows down health care costs and improves the quality of medical care.

To learn more, go to or call (202) 638-7151.

By Ralph G Neas and Henry E Simmons, MD

• Mr. Neas is chief executive officer of the National Coalition on Health Care; Dr. Simmons is its president. The Coalition is the Nation's oldest and most diverse alliance working for the achievement of comprehensive health care reform.

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