Aren’t most of those young people covered by their parents’ plans?
The keeping a young adult on a parent’s group policy is a middle and upper middle class policy sweetner. It is not a comprehensive policy to actually address access to insurance among those who can’t afford it.
Last year, an estimated 7.8 million adults between the ages of 19 and 25 were able to either join or stay on their parents’ plans, according to the Commonwealth Fund’s 2013 annual tracking survey.
In 2011, the Census Bureau projected 21 million people between 20 and 25, and making some rough assumptions, there were probably 25 million people between 19 and 25 in 2011.
So there are roughly 17 million people between the ages of 19 and 25 who were not receiving health insurance coverage through their parents in 2012.
The most important thing to remember about the allowance of dependents to stay on parental group health insurance until the month of the 26th birthday is that it assumes a parent or parents is participating in group health insurance. Furthermore, it assumes that the parent is able to afford the additional premium to keep their kid(s) on their health insurance past the 19th birthday. I know at my company, the basic employee plan costs a low wage employee $17 a paycheck for self-coverage, but as soon as anyone is added, the per-paycheck amount increases to $102. For middle and high wage employees, the employee costs are higher.
If a parent is running naked and had the kids on CHIP or Medicaid until they aged out, the parent can’t help. If the parent was on Medicaid or Medicare or was dual eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, the parent can’t help. If a parent and a young adult don’t have a working relationship where health insurance is not a means of control, the young adult may not accept help even if the parent can provide it.
Not all of the 17 million young adults are running around without health insurance. Some get it through their jobs, some get it as they enlisted in the military, some get it through half decent college plans, some get it through the individual market, some qualify for Medicaid (depending on the state) and more will qualify for Medicaid in nine weeks. The sweetner of keeping a kid on a policy is as much a shifter of coverage instead of a provider of coverage as it keeps some people off of Medicaid or the individual market or away from really bad employer provided health care. There is a significant number of young adults who don’t have coverage today because they can’t get on their parent’s non-exisisting plan who will be looking to buy coverage over the next few months.