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States taking action to insure nation's 13.3M uninsured young adults

August 8, 2007, New York, NYSince 2003, 16 states have enacted legislation requiring insurance companies to provide health insurance coverage to dependent young adults on their parents health plans beyond age 18 or 19, according to a new report from The Commonwealth Fund. While Utah has had such a law since 1994, recent legislative activity reflects states rising concern about the steady loss of coverage among young adults under the age of 30.

Because a majority of uninsured young adults have low incomes, extending eligibility for Medicaid and the State Childrens Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) beyond age 18 would be an important policy solution to cover this group, the authors say. The SCHIP reauthorization bill recently passed in the House of Representatives would allow states to extend coverage up to age 25. Currently, Medicaid and SCHIP coverage for children typically ends at age 19.

The report, Rite of Passage" Why Young Adults Become Uninsured and How New Policies Can Help, finds that 13.3 million young adults ages 19 to 29 were uninsured in 2005, up from 12.9 million in 2004. Young adults also continue to represent the largest age group without health insurance. Despite comprising only 17 percent of the under-65 population they account for 30 percent of the uninsured in that group. Two-fifths (41%) of uninsured young adults ages 19-29 are in families below the poverty level, and 72 percent have incomes below twice the poverty level). The analysis is based on the latest updated Census Bureau data, and is an update of a May 2006 Commonwealth Fund report.

There are misconceptions that young adults dont have health insurance by choice, said Sara Collins, lead author and Assistant Vice President for the Future of Health Insurance at The Commonwealth Fund. However, affordability and access to coverage are real barriers for many young people who lack access to employer coverage. Even the cost of basic coverage on the individual in
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Contact: Mary Mahon
mm@cmwf.org
212-606-3853
Commonwealth Fund
8-Aug-2007


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