Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Graduating without Insurance: A Troubling Trend

18-29 year olds are the most uninsured part of the population in Minnesota. While some undergraduates may still be covered on their parents’ health plans (some plans cover students up to age 25 if they’re enrolled in school), the lack of health insurance among young people who are not in school or are recent graduates is a troubling trend

“People think they’re invulnerable. Students say they can’t afford it but by not having insurance they could end up in bankruptcy,” says Ed Ehlinger, director of Boynton Health Services at the University of Minnesota. Uninsured young people aren’t able to take advantage of the preventive services that are available to those with health insurance, he says. As a result, what may have been easily treatable health problems can develop into emergency situations.

Some insurance companies have tried to adapt to the needs of recent graduates. Blue Cross Blue Shield’s “Simply Blue” is an example of this. “They’re marketing this plan around the state,” Ehlinger says. “Students have been a large part of developing this idea for a low-cost plan. Other insurance companies are doing it too.”

Ehlinger views the uninsured young population as one symptom of a more general problem with health care coverage nationwide. He is an advocate of a universal, single-payer system. “A national problem requires a national solution,” he says. “Everyone else has some sort of national health insurance.”


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