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November 28, 2013

5 myths about health care's 'young invincibles'

(Continued)

Millions of young adults have also gained coverage under the health law's provision that allows them to stay on their parents' health insurance until they're 26. The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that, since this option became available in 2010, more than 3 million young adults have taken advantage of their parents' insurance plans.

When the Kaiser Family Foundation surveyed young adults about health insurance coverage in June, it found that about three in four said it is "very important" to them to have health insurance.

3. They don't need health insurance.

While young adults tend to have lower health-care costs, without coverage they can incur substantial bills. One Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that 17 percent of women ages 18 to 29, and 13 percent of men, have a chronic condition such as cancer or diabetes. Federal data show that young adults have higher rates of car accidents, which could lead to pricey medical bills. The high cost of maternity care can be another concern for young adults, with the average charges ranging upward of $32,000, according to a study published this year by Truven Health Analytics.

Young adults without insurance report difficulties accessing care and paying their medical bills. A 2011 study from the Commonwealth Fund found that more than half of uninsured young adults reported having a medical problem but not seeking treatment. Among insured young adults, that number was 19 percent. That same survey found that 51 percent of uninsured young adults had difficulty paying medical bills, with 26 percent having been contacted by a collection agency.

4. Young people will face steep premiums in the insurance exchanges.

The health-care law makes radical changes to the market for buying health coverage as an individual. For the first time, it requires insurers to accept all customers regardless of any preexisting health conditions. It also limits the amount that insurers can charge the oldest adults — premiums for elderly customers can't exceed three times the amount charged to the youngest subscribers.

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