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Mission Invincible: Addressing the True Reasons Why Young Adults Are Uninsured

Research analyst Nina Roumell just had to explain Kylie Jenner to me. I still don’t get it.

But while there are many parts of Millennial culture I can’t account for (I’m looking at you, Snapchat, “bae” and pumpkin spice everything), there’s one thing I can: why so many twentysomethings don’t have health coverage.

Yesterday, the White House convened the Millennial Outreach and Enrollment Summit, an effort to get more young adults insured. And for good reason. In Colorado alone, residents between the ages of 19 and 29 are more than 50 percent more likely to be uninsured than other adults.

According to popular belief, the reason is simple: this demographic sees itself as invulnerable and therefore not in need of health insurance coverage, a notion that earned them the insurance industry nickname “young invincibles.”

But a new report from the Colorado Health Institute (CHI) turns this perception on its head.

CHI ran a series of regression models on data from the 2015 Colorado Health Access Survey (CHAS) to quantify factors associated with lower insurance rates in this age cohort.

The results?

Young people are less likely to be offered insurance through their company, and access to employer-sponsored coverage is the main reason for the disparity between young invincibles and other adults.

Other factors contributing to the gap include marital status, income, citizenship and health insurance literacy.

What you won’t see on the list is a belief that insurance is unnecessary. In fact, young invincibles were no more likely than other adults to say they don’t need coverage.

This has important implications for policymakers and insurance companies. Insurers need to sign up as many young invincibles as possible to help balance the costs of care for other enrollees. Simply put, premiums paid by younger, healthier people help cover the more expensive medical bills of enrollees who need more care. The success of the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplaces rests on keeping this risk pool diverse.

Check out the report for a deeper dive into the data and health policy considerations. I hope you’ll think the analysis is as “on fleek” as Rihanna. YOLO.

Factors Associated with the Health Insurance Disparity Between Young Invincibles and Other Colorado Adults, 2015

young invinc

The CHAS is the premier source of information on health insurance coverage, access to health care and use of health services in Colorado. It is funded by The Colorado Trust and fielded, analyzed and managed by the Colorado Health Institute. More CHAS data and analyses are available here.