News & Updates From Generation Y

The “President’s Plan”- Health Care Reform & Millennials

In Millennial Matters on February 23, 2010 at 6:35 AM

As President Obama prepares to host a bipartisan health care summit, the debate over health care reform has reclaimed center stage. While the spotlight continues to shine on Democratic and Republican talking points, one voice has been largely absent from the table: the voice of young adults.

Often called “Young Invincibles,” this demographic of 18-35 year olds accounts for roughly 1/3 of the country’s uninsured population. Some troubling statistics (according to YoungInvincibles.org):

-In 2009, the number of uninsured young adults climbed to 18.9 million

51% of young adults aged 19 to 26 do not have employer-sponsored health insurance

-Between 2001-2003 a staggering 62% of young adults between the ages of 19 and 23 went without coverage for some portion of time.

-In 2005–2006, there was an average of 7 million injury-related emergency department visits each year by young adults. (Young adults have the highest rate of injury-related emergency department visits among all age groups.)

-Between 2004–2006, about 15% of young adults reported having one or more of the following chronic medical conditions: arthritis, asthma, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, or hypertension. (15% of young adults have a chronic health condition.)

Part of the problem is that young adults are facing an extremely difficult job market; not only is the unemployment rate affecting Millennials the most, but jobs often taken by young adults do not include employee-sponsored plans. If young adults had access to affordable health insurance that covered catastrophic injuries and other unforseeable accidents, their risk of suffering from medical debt would be far less.

Under Obama’s new health care plan dubbed “The President’s Proposal,” young adults would be allowed to stay on a parent’s health insurance plan until the age of 26. While this may help alleviate some of the problems associated with uninsured Millennials, a large number of young adults would still be without health care in the event that their parents or guardians have lost jobs and/or coverage in recent months.

As the health care debate continues to remain a top priority in Washington, I encourage our lawmakers to consider ways in which insurance reform could improve the tremendous problem of uninsured Millennials. While “Young Invincibles” aren’t as likely to be diagnosed with cancer or suffer from heart attacks, they are anything but “invincible.”

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