Young Adults May Support Health Insurance Reform

Obama and health insurance changes

A poll has found that young adult from the ages of 18-29 make up 30% of the population which is without health insurance coverage and they seem to be the biggest supporters of health reform and the public option. Only 53% of working young adults are eligible for insurance through their work and usually can’t afford to take out their own policies.

Adults 18 to 29 are a group of people seem to be supportive of President Obama's plan to overhaul healthcare, according to a recent poll by Survey USA. These young adults are also the age group that most supports creating a government-run health insurance option, but the jury is still out.

Another national poll, completed about the same time by the Pew Research Center, found that those younger than 30 were more likely than other Americans to favor "the health care proposals being discussed in Congress." The survey also found that young adults were less likely to be following the health care debate closely. Only about 1 in 3 adults younger than age 30 said they had heard a lot about health care, compared with a clear majority of those older than 30.

Under the variety of plans that are in front of Congress, one would be that young adults would be required get health insurance or face penalties if they refuse. These young adults seem to have been very supportive of Obama during last year's election; they have been somewhat quiet about his pursuit for health reform despite the stakes involved.


"Many folks in their 20s are pretty apathetic about health care in general, because they think, 'I'm not going to get sick,' " said Matthew Celentano, deputy director of the nonprofit Maryland Health Care for All. That's dangerous, he said, because more than half of bankruptcies are health care- related. "You have a 23-year-old who gets in a car crash and is suddenly looking at $500,000 in medical bills. It happens all the time, but they don't think in those terms. They're really a forgotten sector."

Genevieve Kenney, a health economist at the Urban Institute disagrees. "I think many more uninsured young adults stand to gain from healthcare reform than stand to lose," Kenney said, citing plans in Congress to provide insurance subsidies for low-income people, many of whom are young.

Other options being considered in Congress would be to allow young adults to stay on their parents' insurance plans until age 26 and would expand eligibility for Medicaid to people with incomes slightly above the federal poverty level. "That's a major step forward for young adults who are poor or near poor," Kenney said.

Trying to steer through the rhetoric and buzz words is difficult and trying to understand what comprehensive healthcare reform means for young adults is even more complicated. If Obama and Congress are able to reform the healthcare system, it could significantly benefit young people. It is still too early to tell and many young adults are sitting on the sideline however, according to polls, young adults may support healthcare reform.

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