Young adults often lose insurance when they graduate from high school or college or turn 19 and are dropped from their parents' policies. The Commonwealth Fund claims that in 2007, nearly 30 percent of this age group, or 13.2 million, were uninsured—an increase of 2.3 million since 2000. With the unemployment rate currently at 15 percent among 20-24 year olds, up from 8.2 percent in 2007, more young adults are likely uninsured now.
Statistics were not parsed out to determine how many young people could afford health insurance but chose not to have it.
Young adults are disproportionately healthy and so also disproportionately uninsured: they comprise 17 percent of the under-65 population but are nearly 30 percent of all uninsured Americans. Their economic input into any government insurance program would obviously be important, since their lower strain on the health care system would allow more elderly people to obtain the services they need.
As new entrants to the labor force, young adults are less likely than older adults to find jobs that come with health benefits and are left to purchase health plans on their own in the individual insurance market, without the financial help of employer premium contributions - a reason some say is just cause to make insurance premiums a tax deduction for everyone rather than just corporations.
The report, 'Rite of Passage? Why Young Adults Become Uninsured and How New Policies Can Help, 2009 Update', outlines how they believe reforms under discussion in Congress would affect young adults: Some proposals would allow young adults to remain on their parents' health plans until they are 26 years old and young adults in lower-income households, who they say represent nearly 70 percent of all uninsured young adults, would be eligible for Medicaid or sliding scale premium subsidies to purchase health plans through a health insurance exchange.
Such policies would enable young adults to maintain health insurance through key life transition points when many experience gaps in their coverage.
The report acknowledges that young adults are healthier as a group than older adults but say that about 15 percent have a chronic health problem such as asthma, more than half weigh more than what is considered to be a healthy weight and that there are 2.7 million births to women in this age group. They also say young adults have the highest incidence of injury related visits to the emergency room of any age group.