Health insurance rates for youths rise

Following the opening of Connecticut’s healthcare exchange under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more of the state’s young adults have enrolled in healthcare plans.

Under the provisions of the ACA, adults under 26 are eligible to extend their coverage under a parent’s plan, and others in this age bracket have purchased coverage through the state’s healthcare exchange. Since it opened on Oct. 1, 1,584 Connecticut residents have purchased healthcare through the exchange, 451 of whom are under the age of 35.

“Prior to the passage of the ACA, young adults had the highest and fastest growing uninsured rate in the United States,” said Tamara Kramer, a Research & Policy Project Manager at Connecticut Voices for Children, a New Haven-based advocacy organization.

Kramer cited numerous reasons for this statistic including the transition between high school and college and expensive premiums for young women are major barriers to healthcare access for youth, Kramer said.

The effects of healthcare reform extend to youth in New Haven. According to a Fall 2012 Survey by the local non-profit DataHaven examining the well-being of Greater New Haven, 17 percent of all adults age d18-34 in the City of New Haven do not have health insurance. The survey found that older adults and adults living in suburban areas were significantly more likely to have health insurance.

To further promote the ways in which ACA benefits to youth in the city, government officials in the city and the state are employing creative channels to spread awareness. Mario Garcia, New Haven’s Director of Public Health, said the city plans to incorporate information about healthcare access in educational settings, through youth advocacy organizations and on social media.

The state’s exchange is also building a support system to make information on health care more accessible to people in Connecticut. Since Oct. 1, when the exchange opened, Kevin Counihan, the C.E.O. of Access Health, the state’s healthcare exchange, has hosted enrollment fairs in libraries and held outreach events at supermarkets.

Counihan added that having more young people insured helps the exchange keep down costs, since young people do not usually use as many medical services.

Connecticut is one of 17 states operating its own marketplace for healthcare exchange.

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