A new study on uninsured young adults implies that many insured young adults have problems with health finance.[@@]

More than 30% of the 40 million U.S. residents between the ages of 18 and 29 were uninsured in 2003, and the uninsured rate for young adults – who tend to be healthy and relatively cheap to insure – was more than twice the uninsured rate for adults between the ages of 30 and 65, according to the researchers who compiled the report, which was released today by The Commonwealth Fund, New York.

Uninsured young adults had more problems with access to health care than insured young adults, but insured young adults also had serious problems with health access, the researchers report.

About 49% of the uninsured young adults were unable to pay medical bills, had been contacted by collection agencies in connection with medical bills, or had had to change their lives significantly to pay medical bills, the researchers write.

But 25% of the insured young adults reported suffering from similar problems with paying medical bills, and 33% of the insured young adults said they had gone without seeing a doctor when they were sick or skipped recommended care because of cost.

The authors of the study had no recommendations for improving coverage for insured young adults, but they said the federal government might be able to expand young adults’ access to health coverage by requiring employers and insurers to extend coverage for unmarried dependent children to age 23, requiring states to extend eligibility for public health program coverage to age 23, and encouraging states to require college and university students to buy health insurance. Premium subsidies could help students pay for the required health insurance, the researchers write.