Health insurance lacking for 13 million young adults

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

A new Commonwealth Fund report shows that 13 million adults age 19 to 29 do not have health insurance coverage. Medical coverage is not affordable for them. According to the report, health insurance reform proposals would ensure that individuals currently covered by health insurance would not lose health benefit coverage that could lead to financial ruin, and already has for many Americans. Making health insurance affordable for young adults would eliminate more than 30 percent of uninsured Americans.

Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis says, "Comprehensive health reform would go a long way toward ensuring that young adults have stable, affordable health coverage that will give them access to the care they need, and protect them in the event of a serious illness." Because young adults suffer more from job loss, transition from school to college, and job changes, a large portion lack health insurance.

Providing Americans with a choice of private health insurance, expanding Medicaid, and offering public health insurance plans would provide affordable health insurance for a large segment of Americans.


According to the report, two in five young adults are uninsured for one year after graduation from college. Many entering the job market will not receive health insurance benefits from employers, making affordable health insurance options a vital necessity.

During a time when health insurance coverage is lacking for young adults, health insurance options currently being discussed by Congress including Medicaid subsidies based on income through an insurance exchange and , extending coverage for children covered on their parent’s insurance plan until age 26.

The impact for those who cannot find affordable health insurance places a significant burden on individuals and families. The Commonwealth report point out that young adults are more prone to visit emergency rooms from injuries, and 2.7 million births occur in the 19 to 29 age group, though overall health is better than older Americans. More than half of young adults are overweight, yet only 41 percent have a family physician, compared to 79 percent of young adults who have health insurance.

Study author and Commonwealth Fund Vice President Sara Collins says "It is critical that reform proposals provide comprehensive, affordable and continuous health insurance that young adults can count on regardless of where they work or whether they are in school." Affordable health insurance would allow a large portion of young Americans to gain access to the healthcare system, benefiting financial health and well-being of over 13 million young adults who currently lack health insurance.

Commonwealth Fund