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More Young Adults Remain Uninsured Rather Than Pay for Health Care

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The world is not looking bright for twenty-somethings and their health. CNN Money reports that 41% of those between the ages 19 to 29 failed to get medical care in a recent 12-month period because of cost, according to a Commonwealth Fund survey.

Young adults are blowing through their savings and racking up credit card debt because of medical expenses. Others are looking away, choosing to ignore health problems by not filling prescriptions, skipping medical tests, and not following through appointments with specialists. There are programs offered to help patients cover health costs, such as one offered by Pfizer (PFE) called Pfizer Helpful Answers that assists with the cost of some medications, but many are hard to find and almost impossible to navigate.

The rise in health care costs has a negative effect on more than just physical well-being. Young adults are also shelving their plans for the future. 31% of those surveyed said that they delayed education or career plans because of medical debt. When someone has substantial medical bills, adding tens of thousands for tuition is the last thing many want to on.

The rise of freelance and contract work has dramatically changed the American workforce and is a big reason many opt out of health insurance or take on plans that lack significant coverage. A 2007 report from the New York City comptroller’s office said freelancers accounted for two-thirds of New York’s job growth since 1975. There are a growing number of organizations that now exist that address the concerns of freelancers. In an interview with Crain’s New York Business, Freelancers Union founder Sara Horowitz said her main reason for creating her organization was when she learned that the number one obstacle freelancers faced was affordable health insurance.

As a freelancer in my late twenties, I had to make the tough decision to spend my money on rent and living expenses instead of health insurance. I took a chance and passed on the limited number of plans available at the time, such as catastrophic health care coverage.  Now in my mid-thirties, I presently pay close to $400 a month for a mid-tier plan.

The upside to The Commonwealth Fund’s report is more than half of young adults have insurance due to a provision of Affordable Care Act that went into effect Sept 23, 2010. It allows them to be covered by a parent’s health insurance plan until the age of 26. Unfortunately, the law is presently up for review by the United States Supreme Court.

Young adults throughout the country hopefully make it through this unscathed.
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