By Tom Curry National affairs writer
msnbc.com
updated 11/13/2009 11:04:51 AM ET 2009-11-13T16:04:51

Claim: Uninsured people in their 20s will get covered if the House health care bill is enacted.

Some 8.2 million Americans age 18 to 24 were uninsured in 2008, according to the Census Bureau. This cohort had the highest rate of being uninsured -- 28.6 percent -- of all age groups. Paul Fronstin of the Employee Benefit Research Institute said, "Young adults are often more likely to be uninsured because they are no longer covered by a family policy and may not have established themselves as permanent members of the work force." Fronstin added, "Many in this age group may think that they do not need health insurance because the likelihood of encountering a high-cost medical event is very low." Even when their employer offers an insurance plan, young workers are less likely than older ones to sign up. Apart from imposing a fine on people who don't buy coverage, what other steps will Congress take to insure this age group?

Fact or fiction?
Fact. The House bill would allow people up to age 27 to get covered as dependents under their parents' policies, if they aren't already a participant or beneficiary in another plan. Thirty states have already enacted legislation to require that dependent coverage be extended to adult children, ranging in age from 21 to 27, depending on the state. The House bill wouldn't bar insurers from raising the cost of premiums to pay for additional beneficiaries. Urban Institute economist Linda Blumberg said there's no reliable data on how many people would be eligible for this benefit. "It's also highly likely that the employer would require the parent to pay the full cost of adding their adult child to the firm's plan, which would mean it would be pretty pricey," she noted. It is a good idea, she said, "but I don't think it's going to have a big impact on coverage."

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