Experts: McKenzie case shows how many uninsured are young people

by Lesley Politi on October 24, 2008

Experts: McKenzie case shows how many uninsured are young people

Those from 18 to 44 comprise 60 percent of the total uninsured, according to the U.S. Census.

Sam Marshall, president of the Insurance Federation of Pennsylvania, a lobbying group for insurers of all types, made these comments about McKenzie’s story.

“This highlights the need to remember that the largest number of people without health insurance are young, ostensibly healthy young people just starting careers and therefore maybe not with employer-funded coverage, and without much money of their own to buy coverage.

As Mr. McKenzie’s story shows, young people need health coverage, too, and they may not have the same health benefits that many older people more established in the work force have.

That’s why we need to make sure young people have affordable options that reflect their lower risk and need for flexible coverage as they try to find a place in the job market. Options like individual health savings accounts combined with insurance for the major problems (such as Mr. McKenzie faced) have real value, because for people his age, they are surprisingly affordable.

You hear a lot of talk about community rating and charging everybody the same amount regardless of age or health status. Yes, we need to make sure coverage is affordable for older, less healthy people.

But Mr. McKenzie’s story is a reminder that we also need to make sure young people can afford coverage. Making them subsidize people with much greater risks and costs won’t do it – and will only make it less likely they get any coverage, which means higher costs for all of us.


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