Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Young Invincibles? Why Young Adults Have Colorado's Highest Insurance Rate

Young adults aged 18-29 years have the highest uninsured rate among any age group in Colorado. Despite the widespread perception that young adults do not buy insurance because they are healthy and believe insurance is unnecessary, most cite cost as the true reason, according to a new report from The Colorado Trust's 2011 Colorado Health Access Survey (CHAS).

Young Invincibles? Why Young Adults Have Colorado's Highest Insurance Rate 
reports that more than one in four young Coloradans – 28.7 percent – are uninsured, up from 21.8 percent in 2008-2009. For Hispanic young adults in Colorado, it is almost half (49.6 percent) who are uninsured.

Only 12 percent of uninsured young adults in Colorado say they are uninsured because they don't think they need health insurance. They were no more likely to give this reason than uninsured older adults. Instead, they most often gave these three reasons for being uninsured:

  • 77 percent said the cost of health care coverage was too high
  • 79 percent cited losing access to employer-based health insurance (their own or a family member's)
  • 24 percent said they became ineligible for Medicaid or Child Health Plan Plus.

CHAS data point to clear effects of lack of insurance on access to health care for young adults. Among insured young adults in Colorado, 76 percent report having a usual place where they seek primary medical care, compared to only 54 percent of uninsured young adults in Colorado who have a usual source of care. In addition, 22.1 percent of young adults did not see a doctor due to cost, and almost a third (32.1 percent) did not see a dentist due to cost.

Unemployment and underemployment of young adults limits their access to health insurance. The number of young adults in Colorado who worked at a job that offered health insurance fell from 47 percent in 2008-2009 to only 36 percent in 2011. Of those who were offered health insurance through their employers, only 63.6 percent chose to purchase the coverage.

To learn more, go to The Colorado Trust.

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