More than 19 million previously uninsured young adults are affected by the new health reform legislation. There’s a lot that this group, the one most likely to not have any form of health insurance, needs to learn.
Known as millennials, this generation came of age during a strong recession and reduced employment opportunities. Many can’t find jobs, can’t get insurance if they do have jobs and some are continuing to live at home with their parents. Under the new law young adults can stay on or go back to their parents’ health insurance plan until age 26 as long as they are “dependents.” They don’t have to live in the same home. Married children are covered, but not their children or spouses.
An estimated two million young adults will gain access to health insurance through their parents’ plans and some nine million will obtain care through the Medicaid expansion. Those with pre-existing conditions that previously prevented coverage will no longer face those barriers. Some eight million will get tax credits that enable them to purchase health insurance, for the first time, at lower costs.
Those numbers, however, could be much higher. A 2009 Commonwealth Fund survey found that 45 percent of those between the ages of 19 and 29 were uninsured, a figure significantly higher than the 30 percent rate reported for 2008 by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The discrepancy may be due to the continued poor economy.
Young Invincibles, a nonpartisan advocacy group, says one of the key benefits for young adults will be reform’s impact on employment. Young adults are less likely than older adults to be provided insurance benefits at work. The new bill will enable them to purchase insurance that stays with them when they change jobs or create their own businesses or free agent careers.
"For all Americans, but particularly young Americans, this is a historic moment that guarantees affordable, stable health care for all," said Aaron Smith, Young Invincibles co-founder. "This bill will provide our generation with the opportunity to pursue our dreams without fear of a lack of health insurance."