The ‘Young Invincibles’ are not, in fact, invincible

at 02:20 PM ET, 06/11/2012

The term “young invincibles” came into common parlance (or, common wonk parlance) during the health reform debate. It describes twenty-something Americans who, believing themselves to be impervious to health risks, don’t see the value in purchasing health insurance coverage.

It’s also somewhat of a misnomer: Young adults have just as much difficulty paying their health-care bills as everyone else. In a new study from the Commonwealth Fund, about 40 percent reported having a cost-related problem accessing health care.

Among those running into financial trouble, about 20 percent report having to change their way of life to pay off medical bills.

Young adults’ troubles with medical bills look to be pretty comparable with the rest of the population. Here’s the Commonwealth Fund’s research, from two years ago, looking at how many Americans have run into trouble with health-care costs:Young and old adults look to have the same percent of the population struggling to make health-care ends meet. The reasons driving that, however, are most likely different. Young adults tend to have lower rates of insurance and employment, meaning they do not have a third party to help foot their bills. Older adults, meanwhile, are better employed and insured. Their health-care costs, however, tend to be higher: Even when they do have insurance, they could get stuck with a significant bill.

 
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