Mike Samuelson, Director, access2wellness Johnson & Johnson Health Care Systems Inc.
As graduates have completed commencement ceremonies and embarked on job searches that they hope will result in a life without parental support, many are finding that they no longer receive the benefits of their family’s employer-sponsored health plan. Adults ages 19 to 29 are among the largest and fastest growing segment of the U.S. population without health insurance, totaling 13.2 million in 2007, according to The Commonwealth Fund, a non-profit research group. ScienceDaily reports nearly 60 percent of employers who offer coverage do not insure dependent children over the age of 18 or 19 if they do not attend college or only attend part-time.
While youth is often considered a time of perfect health, WebMD Health News states that unintentional injuries among young adults, such as smoking and obesity, are on the rise. “Lack of coverage and access to health care services puts the health of young adults at risk, and can subject them, as well as their families, to potentially dire financial consequences, “ said Sara Collins, co-author and assistant vice president at The Commonwealth Fund, in a report on Young Adults at Risk: 13.7 Million Lack Health Insurance Coverage.
According to The Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis : “State-level efforts to cover young adults are very important and will help many young adults as they transition to the labor force. However, most uninsured young adults do not have access to affordable private coverage through their parents’ plans.”
So what can be done to help the growing number of youth who are uninsured?
One possibility is for healthcare providers, family members and friends of young people to share information about assistance resources. There are a number of programs that are available. As someone who has been working with access2wellness and Together Rx Access for nearly four years, I have seen that these valuable, free to use programs can help qualified individuals gain access to the medicines and medical products they may need.