Lack of Health Insurance Could Have Young Adults Singing the Blues

Joe Cantlupe, January 27, 2010

In 90 some odd days (who's counting?), my son Ben is graduating from college. He's a jazz major—and he's jazzed up to say the least, about getting away from classrooms for a while, and simply sliding his fingers across his bass, playing music, and writing compositions.

Once the cap and gown are off, there's the question of where to live and what to do next. And, oh yeah, there's the question of insurance. It's when dreams dive a bit into blues progression. The cacophony in life.

Like many college-age children, Ben has been on our family health insurance policy. When he walks out the door at Temple University in Philadelphia, the ghosts of the Founding Fathers really have nothing to offer in ways of insurance practicality for a young person living for the future, without a job. He's thinking of graduate school, but not yet. He's 21 and single.

As a family, we haven't come to terms with Ben's insurance, never mind the full-time space requirements of him back at home after four years living away.

Nationwide, about two-thirds of college students are covered under their parents' health insurance plan.

The latest data from the U.S. Census Data showed that 13.2 million Americans between the ages of 19 and 29 are already uninsured, making that group the nation's largest uninsured demographic. And what makes matters worse is when the students graduate or leave college and have trouble finding a job.

According to AfterCollege, a company that specializes in employment for college-age youth, 78% of 2009 graduates had a difficult time obtaining full-time employment, leaving employer-sponsored group health insurance on hold.

Once Ben graduates, he may be on his own, insurance wise—or not.

Under the House and Senate bills, high school and college graduates may be able to remain under their family coverage until age 27. Conferees are debating the college age provision as well as other aspects of the reform package. If the Congress approves the measure and it is signed by President Obama, that provision would immediately go into effect.

As Sen. Dick Durbin, D-IL, said in the Capitol, "For families with young children who are off to college … you reach the point where you finally say: 'Wait a minute. My daughter is graduating from college. I wonder if she will still [be)] under my family health insurance plan.'"

On the surface, the fact that the provision is on the table is a relief to many parents of college-age children.

"Most students fall off their [parents'] health plan when they graduate or had a school-sponsored plan. Young adults are the biggest demographics for the uninsured," says Bill Suneson, co-founder of Boston-based Next Generation Insurance Group, which specializes in the "young" market.

Joe Cantlupe Joe Cantlupe is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media Online.Twitter
Facebook icon
LinkedIn icon
Twitter icon