Magazine article Newsweek

Money: Grown-Up and Uninsured

Magazine article Newsweek

Money: Grown-Up and Uninsured

Article excerpt

Byline: Linda Stern

Shaun Randol, a college student and part-time waiter, is trying to cure his anxiety disorder himself, without doctor visits or medicine. And he's been nursing an on-and-off toothache for about two years. Randol has put off seeing doctors since he turned 21, when he got bumped from his parents' health-insurance policy. "It's kind of scary. I can't afford it," he says.

If the United States has a health-insurance crisis, its youth is facing a calamity. Roughly one in three young adults, 19 to 29, lack coverage because they finished going to school or because they're just too old to stay under Mom and Dad's plan. That's more than double the rate of everybody else, reports the Commonwealth Fund, a foundation that funds research on health issues. Most family plans drop kids when they turn 18 if they're not full-time students, and when they are 21 or 22 whether they are in school or not. And many new high-school grads and college grads can't find jobs that offer health-insurance benefits. But there are ways to find coverage:

COBRA. In 1986, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act mandated that young adults who outgrow their parents' plans be allowed to buy up to three years of continuing coverage. This works best for those who have pre-existing health conditions; as long as they pay their bills, the coverage continues. But it isn't cheap. Mike Mann, a New Orleans insurance agent, looked into this for his son, Michael, and found the policy would cost $300 a month.

Short-term policies. …

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