Young adults have some of the highest uninsurance rates in America. In 2008, three in 10 uninsured Americans– almost 14 million people – were between 19 and 29 years of age. As the health reform legislation was developed, it became evident that covering the uninsured in this age group would be a major component of the effort to improve quality and lower costs in our health care system.
The law requires insurers to allow dependent children to remain on their parents’ plans until age 26. But who qualifies as a dependent? Will young adults fall through the cracks between September 23, 2010, when the age-26 provision becomes active, and policy renewal periods? How does the federal law affect state laws on the same subject? What requirements apply to self-insured employers? How might policies offered through colleges be affected? What other ways are the young adult uninsured able to get coverage under the new law? What can be learned from the experience in Massachusetts, where special provisions affecting young adults were included in their reform law?
To address these and related questions, the Alliance for Health Reform and The Commonwealth Fund sponsored a May 24 briefing. Panelists were: Roland McDevitt, head of the health research group at the consulting firm Towers Watson; Sara Collins, vice president of the Affordable Health Insurance Program of The Commonwealth Fund; and Kaitlyn Kenney, director of policy at the Massachusetts Health Connector. Ed Howard of the Alliance moderated.
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