The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release


Health Care Advocate
U.S. Public Interest Research Group

Office: 202-546-9707 x303

New report: One-Third of Young Adults Lack Health Care


The future of the country lies in the hands of its young people. Yet
today more than 1/3 of America's youth - aged 19-29 - lacks
health care.

Often dismissed as
the "young invincibles" who don't worry about health care, a
new study from the U.S. Public Interest
Research Group
exposes a much different story.

How the America's Health Care Fails Young People
paints a troubling picture of the
uncertain reality faced by the country's largest uninsured demographic
and calls for reform of the health care system.

is a problem that affects a huge number of students' said Sophia Fishbane, a Rutgers University
junior and the Campaign Coordinator for NJPIRG Student Chapter's Affordable
Health Care Campaign.

According to the Uncovered, Americans
aged 18-24 are the most likely group in the country to lack health insurance,
with 20 percent of college students aged 18-23 who are uninsured. Once a
student graduates, the number of uninsured spike: among the new graduate
demographic-those aged 23 to 24-an eye-popping 38% are uninsured,
due in large part to insurers' practice of dropping young people from
their parents' plans once they graduate.

"The impact
of lacking health care coverage can be dire for a young person," said
U.S. Public Interest Research Group
Health Care Advocate Larry McNeely
. "If you get sick, you'll
have a hard time staying out of debt and staying in school."

The report finds
that two thirds of uninsured young people go without necessary medical care
because of high costs and also notes that medical debt among young people often
winds up on a credit card: 18-34 year olds who paid for medical care with a
credit card have an average balance of over $13,000. Medical debt is a leading
cause of students dropping out of college.

In the workforce
young people also face obstacles to coverage, according to Uncovered.

workers typically have to deal with temporary or lower paid jobs, high job
turnover, periods of unemployment and employers who are much less likely to
offer health benefits, all of which make it far less likely that they will be
able to maintain health coverage," said McNeely. "It's not
that young people care less about health care, it's that every part of
our system makes it harder for them to get the care they need."

"The bottom
line is that our system is failing a whole generation" said Fishbane. "It doesn't make sense - we can do

Uncovered also makes suggestions for reform,
including allowing young people to remain on their parents' plans for
longer, and creating insurance exchanges and a public health insurance option
to give young people more choices to access affordable quality coverage.

Download a PDF of
the report here.

U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs), stands up to powerful special interests on behalf of the American public, working to win concrete results for our health and our well-being. With a strong network of researchers, advocates, organizers and students in state capitols across the country, we take on the special interests on issues, such as product safety,political corruption, prescription drugs and voting rights,where these interests stand in the way of reform and progress.