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Young adults avoid medical bills by joining parents' health plans

For many young adults, financial struggles may seem like just another part of growing up. Many in South Carolina are entering a workforce already strained with unemployed workers and slow job growth, and even those with a college education are facing difficulties finding good jobs. For those without a college degree, finding any job can be a difficult task.

Government data placed the unemployment rate among young people ages 16 to 24 at 16.1 percent in May 2012, when the national average is 8.2 percent. However, even when they are able to find jobs, there is no guarantee that they will receive health benefits, and the risk of running up high medical bills is ever-present.

Health insurance may not top the priority list of young Americans. Many enjoy good health and have few medical needs. However, when faced with an unexpected illness or injury, not having health insurance can quickly lead to financial ruin. Medical debt can rise quickly, and soon begins to seem insurmountable.

Faced with college loans coming due, a rising cost of living and reduced employment opportunities, many young people are finding it difficult to make ends meet, even without adding high medical bills to the mix. Increasingly, those who can are choosing to remain on their parents' health insurance plans for as long as possible, usually up to age 25.

A study by a nonprofit group called The Commonwealth Fund found that in 2011, among young people ages 19 to 29, two out of five were uninsured. Furthermore, among those who reported having medical debt, 43 percent said that they had emptied their savings to cover medical bills, and 31 percent stated that they had delayed education plans to help cover the costs.

Some in South Carolina and across the nation are looking to President Barak Obama's Affordable Care Act to help the uninsured. The controversial law helped pave the way for many young people to have the ability to join their parents' health care plans, and thereby provided a means of coverage for millions who were otherwise uninsured. However, parts of the law have been deemed unconstitutional, and the Supreme Court will soon rule on whether the law can stand. In the meantime, millions of young people will wait and see, taking advantage of their current coverage to avoid high medical bills as the future of their health care is determined in the highest court in the country.

Source: Newjerseynewsroom.com, "Young adults' medical debt rises: Millions join parents' health plans," Adrienne Vogt, June 9, 2012

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