Young adults don’t have a healthy enough respect for health care, a new Aetna Inc. survey suggests.

In its survey of 1,000 employed Americans aged 18 to 25, Aetna, Hartford, found 44% think it’s more important to pay their monthly cell phone bill than pay a health benefits premium.

Moreover, 70% would rather put part of their income toward paying credit card debt, building savings or contributing to their 401(k).

When Aetna took a closer look at uninsured workers who actually had been injured, however, it was a different story: 91% wished they had been insured at the time of the accident.

Young adults are often dropped from their parents’ plan, Medicaid or the state children’s health insurance program at age 19 or when they graduate from high school or college, leaving them to seek health coverage as they enter the workforce.

But the survey found many are in no rush to sign up for benefits. Of those without coverage (almost a third of those in the age group), 46% say they will sign up when they can afford it, and 31% will enroll when they get a job that offers benefits.

Of young workers who did have health benefits, 85% said dental care was the most valuable, ranking it above vision and many other benefits.

Other results of the survey:

35% said they would probably not be able to find benefits if they become unemployed;

31% thought they wouldn’t be able to find health care insurance if their employer did not offer it;

47% of those covered under their parents’ plan don’t know what kind of plan they have;

30% depend on their parents for help when choosing health benefits;

46% say earning a higher salary is most important when job hunting, compared to 8% who ranked health benefits as their top priority when looking for a job.

Aetna and the Financial Planning Association, Denver, Colo., have set up a Website to help young workers in choosing health benefits: http://www.allaboutthebenefits.com.