Report: Young adults want insurance, unaware of exchanges

It may not be so challenging to convince young adults to enroll in health insurance exchanges, according to a new Commonwealth Fund survey. However, only a precious few young adults actually know about the reform law's benefits.

"There is a stereotype that young adults believe they are 'invincible' and don't want or need health insurance," Commonwealth Fund Vice President Sara Collins, the study's lead author, said Wednesday in a statement. "This survey shows that is a myth--a typical uninsured young adult is from a low- or middle-income family and works a low-wage job. In general, young adults value health insurance but cannot afford it."

The survey of adults between 19 and 29 years old, shows 67 percent took coverage offered through an employer. Of the young adults who didn't enroll in an employer-sponsored plan, 54 percent were already covered by a parent or spouse and 22 percent couldn't afford the premiums. Importantly, only 5 percent turned down the health plan because they didn't think they needed health coverage.

Another major finding is that only 27 percent of young adults know about the health insurance exchanges. "These facts are concerning because young adults as a group have some of the highest uninsured rates and therefore stand to gain a lot from knowing about their options for affordable health coverage," Commonwealth Fund President David Blumenthal, M.D., told reporters on a conference call, according to MedPage Today.

But Collins recognized marketing efforts by federal and state governments since the survey was conducted in March could have increased awareness. Plus, knowledge of exchanges could continue to rise as even more campaigns launch throughout the country.

That's why California officials are working to attract young adults to enroll in the state's exchange, Covered California. "We've been doing hundreds of focus groups," Covered California Executive Director Chris Lee told CNBC. "And while they may be young invincibles, they aren't young and stupid. They want to have insurance."

To learn more
- here's the Commonwealth Fund statement and survey
- see the CBNC article
- read the MedPage Today article

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