Health Reform Protects the “Young Invincibles”

Young Person Health CareToday’s blog post focuses on how young adults benefit from reforms in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was signed into law one year ago this week. As of September 2010, the ACA required all health plans that provide dependent coverage for children to allow parents to keep their adult children who meet certain eligibility criteria on their plans until the age of 26. This is especially helpful to young adults who are having difficulty finding or affording health coverage during times of economic turbulence, as we are currently experiencing. See how the ACA is already benefiting one young Nebraskan.

This provision helps the so-called “Young Invincibles.” The name derives from the idea that young adults forego health care coverage. But the truth is that many just can’t access it. As one might expect, young adults under 26 tend to have the lowest average health care costs. Surprisingly, however, young adults tend to be among the least insured. In 2009 the number of uninsured young adults ages 18 to 34 climbed to 18.9 million people, accounting for approximately one third of the total uninsured population. Young adults ages 18 to 29 have the highest rate of injury-related emergency department visits among all age groups; in 2005–2006, there was an average of 7 million injury-related emergency department visits each year by young adults. Furthermore, only one-quarter of young adults ages 19 to 25 have their own employer-sponsored insurance.

The ACA protects the health of our young adults by allowing them to stay on a parent’s plan until age 26. This provides our young adults and their parents with peace of mind and financial security that in the case of an emergency they won’t be crippled by insurmountable health care costs while they are trying to get on their feet.

Families USA recently released a new tool to help young adults access coverage.

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