Health Reform Proposals Could Expand Insurance Access for Young Adults
As lawmakers continue to debate various national health care reform proposals, stakeholders are evaluating strategies for expanding health coverage to uninsured young adults, HealthLeaders Media reports.
Young and Uninsured
About a third of young adults in the U.S. lack health insurance coverage, according to data from the Urban Institute. Although adults ages 19 to 26 comprise about 18% of the country's adult population, they account for up to 28% of the uninsured.
In addition, young adults who do not attend full-time schooling are less likely to have coverage. A recent Commonwealth Fund study found that 37% of part-time and non-students ages 19 to 23 lacked insurance, compared with 18% of full-time students.
The study recommends that policymakers expand insurance coverage for young adults by:
- Encouraging colleges and universities to offer health insurance coverage to full- and part-time students;
- Extending eligibility for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program beyond age 18; and
- Requiring health plans to extend eligibility for dependents under private coverage beyond age 18 or 19.
Many states and higher education institutions already have enacted some of these policies.
In addition, some national health care reform bills currently under debate strive to extend coverage to young adults by:
- Allowing young adults to remain on their parents' insurance policies until age 26;
- Developing an insurance exchange to help young adults enroll in low-cost health plans; and
- Expanding health insurance availability to those without employer-based coverage (Simmons, HealthLeaders Media, 8/26).