Uninsured Rate for Young Adults Drops Sharply

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Written by: Brett O’Hara

Every year, the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey asks respondents whether they had any health insurance coverage during the previous calendar year. Collected since 1987, these statistics are the longest series that measure health insurance coverage for our nation.

Today, we released statistics pertaining to the 2011 calendar year. Segmented by a range of demographic characteristics, they show that 17.9 percent of people under age 65 were uninsured in 2011. That overall percentage, however, masks a great deal of variation among age groups.

Traditionally, the likelihood of being without health insurance coverage declines with age for adults. According to these just-released numbers, this pattern has changed a bit, however.

Because they are less likely to be in the labor force, young adults between 19 and 25 years old have traditionally been more likely than other adults to lack health insurance. However, in 2010, their rate began coming down (1.6 percentage points). And in 2011, their rate declined even more ─ by 2.2 percentage points to 27.7 percent. Their rate has declined so much during the last couple of years that by 2011, it was not statistically different from that of the next oldest age group: 26- to 34-year-olds. Partly, this pattern is attributable to more young adults being covered under their parents’ plan.

The decline in the uninsured for this youngest group of adults was much steeper than the decline for the population as a whole, which was 0.6 percentage points. Furthermore, for two other groups of working-age adults (those 26 to 34, and 45 to 64), there was no drop at all.

To access the Census Bureau’s health insurance statistics, visit < http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/hlthins/hlthins.html>.

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One Response to Uninsured Rate for Young Adults Drops Sharply

  1. Sam says:

    Interesting data. I wonder what exactly causes that – I bet it’s not only young people becoming insured under their parents’ coverage. I thing colleges offering insurance could be the reason as well. Interesting to find out how the current statistical data intersects with the percentage of young people enrolled in colleges in 2011.

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