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Health Care Reform: Many Young People Still Have No Insurance Under Obama Plan

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 03/28/2012 3:50 pm Updated: 03/28/2012 3:54 pm

Young People Health Insurance
Many young people between the ages of 26 and 30 still will have no health insurance when President Obama's health care law fully takes effect in 2014.

Extending health care to twenty-somethings is one of the signature accomplishments of Barack Obama's health care reform law.

Yet young adults continue to comprise the largest proportion of uninsured Americans.

Twenty-eight percent of Americans between the ages of 26 and 34 had no health insurance in 2010, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. That is nearly one-third more than the percentage of Americans between the ages of 35 and 44 without health insurance. (h/t SmartMoney.)

This number appears unlikely to decline until 2014, when nearly all Americans will be required to have health insurance under the new health care law--although as the Supreme Court heard arguments this week on the constitutionality of the health care law, that declined seemed far from certain.

If the law is overturned, so would one of its most significant achievements--the extension of coverage to 2.5 million 19- to 25-year-olds who are now covered by their parents' health care plans. A decision is expected in June.

What's keeping twenty-somethings uninsured?

At the age of 26, you're too old to qualify as a dependent on your parents' health insurance plan, despite being unemployed, in school, or working for a company that does not provide health insurance.

Young people also have the hardest time getting access to affordable care when they're entering the job market: many twenty-somethings are employed by small businesses, or have part-time, entry-level and freelance jobs that do not offer health care, according to the Department of Labor.

And health care is only getting more expensive. Americans' health care spending has tripled since 1990, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. American workers on average pay $4,000 toward the cost of family health coverage, according to a separate Kaiser report.

On top of this, young Americans are seeing their spending power diminish, since they often do not have the skills or experience to command higher wages as millions of unemployed Americans stay out of work. The average wage of college-educated men between the ages of 23 and 29 plunged 11 percent over the past decade, and the average wage of college-educated women of the same age fell 7.6 percent, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

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