In the parlance of the health care industry, Ms. [Alanna] Boyd, whose case remains unresolved, is among the “young invincibles” ”” people in their 20s who shun insurance either because their age makes them feel invulnerable or because expensive policies are out of reach. Young adults are the nation’s largest group of uninsured ”” there were 13.2 million of them nationally in 2007, or 29 percent, according to the latest figures from the Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit research group in New York.
Gov. David A. Paterson of New York has proposed allowing parents to claim these young adults as dependents for insurance purposes up to age 29, as more than two dozen other states have done in the past decade. Community Catalyst, a Boston-based health care consumer advocacy group, released a report this month urging states to ease eligibility requirements to allow adult children access to their parents’ coverage.
“There’s a big sense of urgency,” said Susan Sherry, the deputy director of Community Catalyst. She described uninsured young adults as especially vulnerable. “People are losing their jobs, and a lot of jobs don’t carry health insurance. They’re new to the work force, they’ve been covered under their parents or school plans, and then they drop off the cliff.”
If Governor Paterson’s proposal is approved, an estimated 80,000 of the 775,000 uninsured young adults across New York State would be covered under their parents’ insurance plans. That would leave hundreds of thousands to continue relying on a scattershot network of improvised and often haphazard health care remedies.
In dozens of interviews around the city, these so-called young invincibles described the challenge of living in a high-priced city on low-paying jobs, where staying healthy is one part scavenger hunt and one part balancing act, with high stakes and no safety net.
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