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HSFPP Weekly Update #91—Uninsured Young Adults
Message from Flashman: This week's update concerns the growing problem facing young adults between the ages of 18 and 34 who don’t have healthcare insurance. Many people without health insurance earn decent incomes and are not considered poor, but tend to have high debt from credit cards and from continuing their education beyond high school. The high numbers of the uninsured also affect the rest of us through higher premiums for health insurance and through increases in our taxes. The worst part of this already bad situation is how many young adults are dying prematurely because they could not afford to pay for healthcare and did not seek medical care when symptoms first occurred. This week’s article In the New$... explains their situation in greater detail.
Future updates will focus on the Jump$tart Coalition’s most recent study on financial literacy of teenagers.
For those who plan to take our summer course, which we’ve mentioned earlier, please note the following information:
FAM 759 – Special Advanced Topics in Family Studies: Financial Education for Teachers: Look in the University of Kentucky course schedule for the 2004 Summer Sessions. Karen Alexander and I will teach this course during the Second Summer Session, June 10 – August 5. The course will take place Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5:00 – 7:30 pm, via interactive video, at the following sites around the state: Ashland Community College; Northern Kentucky University; Owensboro Community College; Paducah Community College; Somerset Center for Rural Development; and Franklin County (specific location to be determined). We are trying to add a site in Elizabethtown, based on county agent requests. The course will also be taught at the same time on the UK campus. For more information, please check the summer course schedule (p. 76) or contact me here at UK.
Website Pick of the Week: Cover the Uninsured Week
This excellent website provides updates on what various states and organizations are doing to address the problem facing Americans who lack healthcare insurance. A wealth of resources can be found here.
Suggested Activity for Teachers:
Please discuss with your students the importance of having adequate health insurance. Also have them discuss the questions below.
In the New$... Five-Day Series in the Tennessean Profiles Young, Uninsured Adults
“Series offers an extensive look at the problem through the lens of one population”
“A five-day, 20-plus article series in the Tennessean, called ‘Prescription for Peril’ focused on the ‘growing number of young adults without medical insurance and the impact it has on their health and finances, their families and those who have insurance.’ Setting the tone for the series, the first article begins with the observation that ‘medical insurance is a benefit [that many young adults] can't live without but one they can't afford.’ One out of every five Tennesseans between the ages of 18 and 34 has no medical coverage, even though most are working, some at two jobs. This ‘often means a life of poorer health ... [and] a quagmire of oppressive debt, in which an accident or serious illness creates unpaid and unpayable medical bills.’ But the impact of being uninsured also extends to the individual's family, which often tries to help out financially, as well as society at large.
“When an uninsured person receives medical care, the cost of their care shifts to those who can pay via higher taxes, higher medical bills and higher insurance premiums, according to the article. ‘Obviously, every time an uninsured person goes to the hospital and they can't recoup those costs, hospitals either eat those costs or transfer them to paying customers,’ said Bill Steverson, spokesperson for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. ‘So it does increase the premiums for people with insurance.’
“‘Originally envisioned as a program to help the uninsured, among other things,’ Tennessee’s government-funded TennCare program initially dropped the level of uninsured people in the state to well below the national average. But the program shrunk as enrollments increased along with costs. Now, eligibility changes make it increasingly difficult for uninsured young adults to enroll.
“The series features poignant stories that illustrate the difficulties in terms of health and personal finance the young and uninsured face, difficulties that adversely affect their families, communities, and the nation. The articles include:
- “An examination of the decline in employer-based coverage as the economy slowed down and health care costs soared
- “The ‘far-reaching implications’ for those who are insured—when the young and healthy drop coverage, those who are left are ‘older and prone to be sicker,’ making ‘the rate at which bad things can be expected to happen’ increase as well as the cost of insurance
- “The dangers of delaying treatment, which leads an estimated 1,930 uninsured young adults in the United States between the ages of 25 and 34 to die prematurely, according to the Institute of Medicine
- “A profile of the Faith Family Medical Clinic in Nashville, one of the many community clinics around the country that is a hospital alternative to uninsured people who are sick, yet the only one in the area that is ‘specifically catering to people who work, but don’t have insurance’
- “A profile of Jeremy Woodard—a ‘poster boy’ for uninsured young adults—who suffers from Crohn's disease, an intestinal disorder, and his ‘descent into indebtedness’ as he struggled to pay costly medical bills by working two part-time jobs
- “How medical bills are ‘a recipe for bankruptcy’ for the uninsured
- “The ‘fallout’ that the costs of the uninsured place on families and taxpayers, including family help with medical bills, taxpayer coverage of unpaid hospital bills, higher premiums for all, and threats to public health from the uninsured who delay treatment for communicable diseases
- “The attempts by political leaders, insurance companies, health care providers and business groups to find a solution to a problem that both President George Bush and Democratic presidential challenger Senator John Kerry place ‘high on the agenda’
- “Interviews with leading political and health officials in Tennessee on how to address the problem of the uninsured, including Rob Ikard, state director for the National Federation of Independent Business; Dr. James T. Carter, a member-elect of the Tennessee Medical Association; Vicki Gregg, chief executive of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee; Roxane Spitzer, chief executive of the Metropolitan Nashville Hospital Authority; Dr. John Gibson, a Nashville internist on the board of the Nashville Academy of Medicine; and Joseph P. Newhouse, the John D. MacArthur Professor of Health Policy and Management at Harvard University”
Original Source: Sheila Wissner and Shelley Mays, The [Nashville] Tennessean (Mar. 28 to Apr. 1, 2004)
1.) Why is it important for you to have your own health insurance when you’re no longer covered by your parents’ health insurance?
2.) What should be done about the current situation in which not everyone can afford health insurance?
3.) Why is it important that something be done to reduce the numbers of the uninsured, including young adults?
Once you turn 18 or 19, depending on the policies of your parents’ insurance company, you might not be covered by your parents’ health insurance anymore. If you’re attending a post-secondary educational institution, your coverage on your parents’ policy could end at age 22 or age 25, depending on the insurance company. Ask your parents what you can do about this. Also think about and write down what job benefits you would look for when you begin a career. The amount of money you receive in your paycheck is not everything. Often it is better to get paid less and have more benefits such as health insurance than to get paid more and have to provide your own health insurance with your after-tax dollars.
Kentucky High School Financial Planning Program
The purpose of this Web site is to assist county extension agents, credit union educators, and high school teachers in improving the economic well-being of our constituency, beginning with todays students; and also, to assist teachers in Kentucky in meeting KERAs goal that all students become technologically literate. Weekly Updates are provided by the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, and are free to all educators.