By Cynthia Dagenais
“If you plan on getting hurt at any time, do it now while you’re young and it’s covered under your parents’ insurance, ” said John Michaels, a small business owner and father from New Jersey, “because once you graduate, you’re not going to be able to pay for much.”
Many adult acquaintances of college students tell them to take advantage of being dependent on their parents’ money while they are still young and healthy. This bit of advice might come into play when it comes to paying for health insurance, along with all the other expenses the recent graduates need to pay.
People in their 20s are usually at the peak of their health, but according to a recent report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these ‘young invincibles’ in reality are less healthy because of increases in cigarette smoking, obesity, other health problems, and the lack of insurance available.
According to CNN.com, a third of 18-to-29-year-olds are cigarette smokers. A quarter of that same demographic is obese.
The CDC’s statistics also reported that in 2003-04, 45 percent of young women between the ages of 20 and 24 in the United States were infected with human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause cervical cancer.
Of all age groups, young adults consume the most alcohol. According to the CDC, one-fifth of young adults reported having five or more drinks in a day on at least 12 days in the past year. This age group also has one of the highest rates of injury-related emergency department visits.
A problem with these health statistics is that many college graduates lack health insurance coverage. According to CNN.com, a third of people ages 20 to 24 are uninsured. Two common reasons why is because they are too old to have coverage under their parents’ insurance and if their occupation does not have health insurance plans.
“I have a nephew that is prone to injuries and can barely pay for all the doctor visits and physical therapy because he’s too old to be on his folks’ plan,” said Michaels. “It really hits the family hard [financially] because it is a transition phase from being taken care of by your parents to being on your own.”
Although such a high percentage of young adults are uninsured, many receive benefits from their occupation. Andrew Dagenais, a recent Rider University graduate, started working as an accountant for NRG Energy, Inc., a year ago and receives great benefits at his job.
“When I started work, I had several options for health insurance,” said Dagenais. “It’s part of the benefits of my job. Because my industry involves risky and dangerous operations for maintenance of the power plants, I have a great selection of top insurance policies.”
Dagenais did not struggle when choosing health plans, and he advises young adults to not only look into the salary when applying for a job, but also the kinds of benefits offered.
Dagenais’s benefits were recently upgraded, but other people might have hard times finding affordable health insurance coverage for their needs. In these times with companies cutting back their budgets, employees may find their health insurance cut.
The Obama/Biden campaign website promised to provide affordable, accessible health care for all Americans, to lower healthcare costs, and to require coverage of preventative services. Should the newly elected President implement his plans in the White House, Americans, especially young adults, would not need to worry about finding health insurance.
For the third of young adults who do not receive health insurance from their jobs, Steve Luptak, executive director of an assistance group called Healthcare Advocacy, offers advice on how to get affordable insurance, such as finding free clinics and taking up a part-time job.
“As long as people find jobs that offer healthcare, people shouldn’t worry about not having any [health insurance],” said Dagenais. “You just have to know where to look.”