Lack of Health Insurance Could Have Young Adults Singing the Blues

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media , January 27, 2010

With the possible congressional decision to allow young people to stay on their parents' insurance policies until age 27, the ability of his company to offer insurance policies to new college graduates probably will be negatively affected, he says. "It doesn't help" that aspect of the college insurance business, he predicts.

Indeed, from the perspective of insurance businesses that specialize in "America's uninsured population—young adults"—the age "27 provision" may not be the best fit, but there are a lot of issues affecting the college student market—and that makes for more insurance business options, according to Suneson.

For instance, while there are an estimated 67% of college graduates who may be tied into their families' plan, there are another 33% who may not have a plan, and may be searching for some kind of insurance on their own.

Despite some of the healthcare reforms being bandied about regarding coverage of post-graduate students, Next Generation Insurance Group officials sees a real potential for growth in the college market, with youths needing all sorts of insurance options, including health, short-term, major medical, and other needs. The company last year launched, described as a complete portfolio of specifically designed insurance products for college students and new graduates.

Regardless of healthcare reform legislation in Congress, "There are definitely shortcomings in the current system when it comes to health coverage of students in college," says James A. Boyle, president of College Parents of America.

"One of the problems involves currently enrolled students who are within their parents' coverage who need quick medical attention at their campus—which refuses to take their parents' coverage. Eventually, the student can apply for a reimbursement, but what student does that? It's a widespread inconvenience."

"Whatever happens on the Hill, there are weaknesses in the students' plans," Boyle says. "Insurance companies are going to be a part of the future of health—and the uninsured 18- to 24-year-olds make up a significant percentage."

The other day Boyle flew to see representatives of Next Generation Insurance Group to discuss plans for a potential venture involving additional coverage policies for college age children.

As for my son Ben, he's thinking about what gigs he may play after graduation. Insurance isn't on his mind—for now. But insurers are keeping watch on college students—and see lots of business potential ahead even before graduation day.

Joe Cantlupe is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media Online.

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