Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Most Uninsured Young Adults Will Get Coverage by 2014

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Most Uninsured Young Adults Will Get Coverage by 2014

Article excerpt

Health reform could benefit young adults more than any other uninsured group, expanding coverage to almost all 13.7 million of them through a combination of insurance reforms, subsidies, and Medicaid expansion, according to a report from the Commonwealth Fund.

Provisions of the Affordable Care Act that extend coverage of young adults as dependents to age 26 years probably will cover about 1.2 million of that population by the end of 2011. Extending Medicaid eligibility could provide coverage to another 7.1 million young people, beginning in 2014, according to the report.

Further, combining premium subsidies with opportunities to purchase coverage via a health insurance exchange will provide the remaining uninsured young adults--defined by the report as aged 19-29 years--a chance to obtain affordable coverage starting in 2014.

"The benefit of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 for young adults cannot be overstated," Sara Collins, Ph.D., lead author of the report, said at a press briefing. "The provisions have the potential to cover 13.7 million young adults," or the same number that were uninsured in 2008.

However, that figure probably underestimates the current number of uninsured young adults, since unemployment has risen dramatically in that population since 2008.

Health care costs represent a significant problem for this group, whether or not they are insured, according to the report. A total of 76% of uninsured young adults and 37% of those with insurance went without needed care in 2009 because of its cost, the report said. One-third of all uninsured young people and 46% of those both uninsured and with chronic health problems reported that their health declined because they delayed getting medical care.

In addition in 2009, 60% of young adults without insurance had trouble paying medical bills, compared with 27% of their insured peers, according to the report. Medical debt also is a problem, the report found, with 11.3 million young people paying off medical debt. Half of those had asked family for financial help, while 39% said they were unable to meet other financial obligations such as student loans because of their medical debt. …

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