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June 20, 2007

Health insurance gap puts grads to the test

As graduates filed into the Mondavi Center for UC Davis commencement exercises last week, many chatted about what's possibly their last carefree summer before new careers limit them to two-week vacations.

What's not on their minds is the reality that between graduation and full-time employment, young people often lose health insurance. Some go uncovered for a year or more.

In California, 41 percent of people ages 18 to 35 are uninsured, according to a 2005 California Health Care Foundation survey.

Nationwide, 30.6 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds are uninsured, making them the largest population without coverage in 2005.

The numbers reflect an increase from 2004, when an estimated 13.7 million people ages 19 to 29 had no coverage. As recently as 2000, just 2.5 million were without health insurance, according to a 2005 survey by the Commonwealth Fund, a private health advocacy group based in New York.

Often students lose eligibility for school coverage after graduation and their parents' plans when they reach a certain age or are no longer full-time students. These are details that students and parents excited about the arrival of Graduation Day often overlook.

Today, as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger pushes a universal health plan and presidential candidates are pressed to take a stance on insurance, many students face the choice of buying often costly short-term policies or gambling on their health and simply winging it without a safety net.

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Posted by healthinsurance at June 20, 2007 10:29 AM