States Taking Action to Insure Nation's 13.3 Million Uninsured Young Adults

eAlert 3377939c-649c-4f04-8eb8-7498a89bdc8c

<p>In 2003, The Commonwealth Fund first reported on the staggering uninsured rate among young adults in the U.S., and how simple, targeted policy changes could help this group obtain and hold on to health coverage.</p><p>In the newly updated and revised edition of <a href="/cnlib/pub/enews_clickthrough.htm?enews_item_id=29450&return_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ecommonwealthfund%2Eorg%2Fpublications%2Fpublications%5Fshow%2Ehtm%3Fdoc%5Fid%3D514761%26%23doc514761">Rite of Passage? Why Young Adults Become Uninsured and How New Policies Can Help,</a> Fund researchers discuss the latest coverage rates for young adults, what states are doing to tackle the problem, and what additional policy options are available. In 2005, 13.3 million adults ages 19 to 29 were uninsured, up from 12.9 million in 2004. Despite comprising only 17 percent of the under-65 population, they account for 30 percent of the nonelderly uninsured.</p><p>Sixteen states have enacted legislation in the last four years requiring that insurance policies covering parents also cover their children beyond age 18 or 19. Extending eligibility for Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) beyond age 18, the authors say, would further expand coverage, since a majority of uninsured young adults have low incomes.</p><p>"There are misconceptions that young adults don't have health insurance by choice," said Sara Collins, Ph.D., the report's lead author and the Fund's assistant vice president for the Program on the Future of Health Insurance. "However, affordability and access to coverage are real barriers for many young people who lack access to employer coverage."</p>