Voter Guide: Coverage for Young Adults
Young adults are among the most likely to not have health insurance. One out five young adults, ages 19 to 25, has no health insurance compared to one of out seven adults ages 45 to 65. Although these numbers are high, they are down significantly from 2012 when more than a quarter of young adults were uninsured.
The decline in young adults without insurance is likely due to the provision in the Affordable Care Act that allows young adults to remain on their parents’ policies until age 26. For young adults still uninsured, high costs are the biggest factor. Their parents may be uninsured leaving them without dependent coverage.
Young people are often looking for work or starting their careers and are more likely to have lower incomes. Because they are also more likely to work for small businesses or work part-time, they often can't get health benefits through their jobs.
Not having health insurance can be expensive. Nearly half of those who are uninsured say they’ve had problems with medical bills. Almost 4 in 10 carried medical debt. Remaining uninsured has a cost as well. The Affordable Care Act requires all people to have health insurance or pay a penalty. In 2016, adults will pay a fine of $695 for being uninsured or 2.5% of their annual income, whichever is greater.
The Affordable Care Act required states to expand their Medicaid programs to everyone below 138% of the federal poverty line ($16,242 for individuals). However, the Supreme Court ruled it was unconstitutional to require states to expand their programs and made it optional. As of 2016, 32 states and the District of Columbia have expanded their Medicaid programs, allowing young adults access to low-cost health insurance. Several states that have not expanded their programs are considering doing so.
Repeal the Affordable Care Act
Several candidates are promising to repeal the Affordable Care Act. If the Affordable Care Act is repealed, it is not clear if parents would still be able to keep young adults on their policies. The provision has proven popular and several insurance companies have said they would keep it, no matter what happens to the law.