Get Covered America’s #GotCovered Series: Affordable Care Act Health Coverage Helps Young Americans in Transition

Medicaid and Special Marketplace Enrollment for Graduates and 26-year-olds are Helping Young Adults Navigate Life’s Changes

Thursday, May 15, 2014
CONTACT: Justin Nisly | 202-601-2494

Washington, DC – Many young adults secured health insurance in the Health Insurance Marketplace during the first open enrollment period, ensuring that as they make big decisions about their lives and careers, their coverage will be there for them. And thanks to Affordable Care Act provisions that help young people obtain coverage when their circumstances change, they and many others can rest easy knowing that the Health Insurance Marketplace will be available to them when they need it. I made a copy edit in the kicker line and a few edits in the 3rd paragraph + linked the YI study. LMK if those are okay.

Thanks to the special enrollment period and year-round Medicaid enrollment options, many more young adults will be able to secure coverage in the coming year. Any young adult who experiences a qualifying life event like moving, turning 26 and ageing out of their parents’ coverage, graduating from college and losing student health coverage, marriage, or having a child will be able to re-enter the Health Insurance Marketplace, find out if they are eligible for financial assistance, and choose a health plan that makes sense for them.

A recent report released from Young Invincibles shows that young adults are statistically more likely than other age groups to experience these transitions as they begin their careers. About 34 percent of young adults between the ages of 18 to 39 years old are uninsured at some point during the typical year, compared to 17.9 percent of 40 to 64 year olds. Between 2011 and 2012, nearly 25 percent of Americans between the ages of 20 to 29 moved– more than twice the national average. Moreover, 83 percent of all babies born in the United States have mothers between the ages of 18 and 34. And while the ACA has allowed 3 million young people to stay on a parent’s plan until they are 26, that’s not an option for some young people. But thanks to all of these opportunities, young people can make decisions without fear that they will get shut out of coverage just when they need it most.

Whitney Litzner – Shelby, MI

Whitney is a 26-year-old who recently finished her Master’s in Public Health. Typically graduation is cause for celebration, but Whitney was afraid of what graduating would mean for her health care future. Without the option of her parents’ insurance when she turned 26 in March, she estimated that the prescription costs alone for managing her Type 1 diabetes would cost more than $35,000 a year. Before the Marketplace opened last October, the Litzner family made a list of insurance companies to apply to, knowing she would be losing their coverage when she left school and turned 26. Six of seven companies denied her because of her pre-existing condition, and the seventh refused to pay for the treatment she needs to manage her diabetes.

When the Marketplace opened, Whitney found a comprehensive Gold tier plan that’s cheaper than all of her previous options. While she qualified for premium assistance, she opted to take the full tax credit at the end of the year, since her income has fluctuated in the past year. Her new deductible of $250 gives her the financial certainty she needs to move forward without her parents’ plan.

Whitney says she is very grateful, so she found a way to share her experience and savings under Affordable Care Act. Last year, Whitney took a position with ACCESS, a Michigan based non-profit that received a Navigator grant, so that she could help others get enrolled in affordable health coverage.

Nate Hojnacki – Washington, D.C.

Nate is originally from Chicago, and relocated to Washington D.C. for professional opportunities in 2010. After finishing his Master’s Degree at Johns Hopkins, he began to search for the right job to start his dream career in international affairs. Though he considers himself healthy, Nate knew he needed coverage to protect himself financially from unexpected injuries that could upend his career plans. His school’s insurance ended in August after his graduation last year, and he turned 26 in October, so he needed a coverage option that could protect him while he looked for a job.

After verifying his income on D.C.’s exchange, Nate was deemed eligible for Medicaid coverage, and has now enrolled. Instead of taking a job that may not have been the right fit simply for the benefits they offer, he waited and was able to secure a position that suits his skills, with benefits that will start soon. Now, with the knowledge that coverage is accessible to him no matter what, he can make the best decisions for his career moving forward.

Ali Kurnaz – Orlando, FL

Ali graduated from the University of Central Florida last year. Even though he is under 26 years old, he went without coverage after graduation since his parents – self-employed restaurant owners – have never been able to secure affordable insurance of their own.

As a recent graduate, there are a number of important challenges he faces, but securing health insurance for his family was first among those. Once the Marketplace opened, Ali helped his family enroll in coverage that cost them about $300 a month total. His parents emigrated from Turkey, years before he was born, where access to affordable health care is widely available. Now that they have found coverage and can access the care they need, Ali sees it as the missing piece to make them feel like full American citizens.

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Get Covered America is a national campaign of Enroll America that is focused on educating consumers about the benefits of health coverage and the new health insurance available under the Affordable Care Act. With operations in eleven states (AZ, FL, GA, IL, MI, NC, NJ, OH, PA, TN and TX), our grassroots team is powered by passionate staff and volunteers with one motivating goal: to give Americans the information they need to choose an affordable health insurance plan that’s right for them and their families.

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