States have been taking action to expand health coverage for uninsured young adults, the Commonwealth Fund reported today. Sixteen states over the past few years have enacted laws mandating insurers to provide insurance to dependent young adults on their parents health plans beyond age 18 or 19.
While Utah has had such a law since 1994, recent legislative activity reflects states rising concern about the steady loss of coverage among young adults under the age of 30, according to the report, Rite of Passage? Why Young Adults Become Uninsured and How New Policies Can Help. Most of the state laws apply to all young adults except for laws in Idaho, Rhode Island, and South Dakota, which apply only to students. Most of the laws were passed between 2005 and 2007.
The group also reported that 13.3 million young adults ages 19 to 29 were uninsured in 2005, up from 12.9 million in 2004. Young adults also continue to represent the largest age group without health insurance, accounting for 30% of the uninsured in the under-65 population. More than 40% of uninsured young adults ages 19 to 29 are in families below the poverty level, and 72% have incomes below twice the poverty level.
The analysis is based on recent Census Bureau data and updates a May 2006 Commonwealth Fund report.
Expanding eligibility for Medicaid and the State Childrens Health Insurance Program beyond age 18 would be an effective way to cover more young adults with low incomes, the report stated. The House and Senate recently approved bills to reauthorize SCHIP, which sunsets on Sept. 30. -- by Jennifer Lubell
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