Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"Invincible" Young Adults' Lack of Health Insurance

Yahoo! News has just reprinted a TIME magazine article on young adults' widespread lack of health-insurance coverage and the implications of this situation for the ongoing congressional efforts to enact health care reform.

According to the article, one-third of 19-29 year-olds lack coverage. The reasons are varied: "These young adults are less likely to be offered employer-based coverage, earn less money to buy insurance on their own, are generally healthy and spend little time worrying about the worst-case scenarios that could befall them."

The last reason cited, regarding the mindset of many emerging adults, is probably the most interesting one to human development scholars, many of whom are interested in risk-taking and cognitive processes in adolescents and young adults. This perspective has not escaped the attention of policymakers, either. The article notes that, "A draft of the [Senate] Finance Committee's bill calls for a new category of health insurance specifically designed for what it calls 'young invincibles.'"

So imperative do experts consider health-insurance enrollment of young adults -- "to help spread out risk and keep older Americans' premiums from going even higher" -- that the legislation may ultimately include provisions to fine individuals who don't sign up for insurance packages that are offered. The hope, in the words of a Finance Committee aide quoted in the article, is that young adults will think, "You are still paying $950 for nothing or you pay a little bit more for something."

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