YAs ON YAPs (Young Adults on Young Adult Plans)...By Elmer Freeman

A couple of weeks ago, my class of health science majors (pre-med, public health, possibly nursing, pharmacy or physical therapy) in Bouvé College of Health Sciences at Northeastern University were privileged to have a presentation by Lindsey Tucker, Health Reform Coalition Coordinator at Health Care for All about Chapter 58, often mistakenly referred to as “Massachusetts health reform” and the availability of affordable health insurance for them as one of the key target populations, young adults ages 19-26. Partly motivated by another contributor to this blog this week I decided to follow-up with a class survey, and while “of course I’m not a researcher or a scientist” it’s subject to criticisms regarding scientific rigor, validity and reliability. Nevertheless, I think there are some interesting findings.

I’m pleased to report a 100% response rate and that 100% of the students responding to the survey are insured: 88% on their parents plan with 6% on Medicaid and another 6% that purchase the plan offered by the University. As future health professionals a substantial majority, 78% report that having health insurance is very to very, very important to them mostly for security as a way “to ensure payment for a catastrophic event or illness.” Only 30% reported feeling they understood enough about health insurance, coverage and benefits to make an informed decision in selecting from among the “too many” Commonwealth Choice(s). Many, 66% were discouraged by the complexity and lack of information available. Try here.

The vast majority, 81% report being minimal consumers of health care services over a 24 month period, except for few chronic diseases, and one or two acute episodes, services were limited to occasional physicals, immunizations for college, and routine gynecological/family planning visits.

Only 21% disagreed with or expressed doubt about the individual mandate. However, 70% felt that it was unfair to use the young and healthy to subsidize care for the old and infirmed, trying to justify it with “they need to pay for the elderly, sick people, which they will eventually become.”

Finally, there were varying points on the dysfunction of the health care system with many recommendations for change. There was reference to The Boston Paradox: Lots of Health Care, Not Enough Health and the disproportionate amount of $$ and resources go into health care and how little we receive in terms on health status.

I hope we’re seeing the development of a new cadre of physician activists and public health advocates.

Elmer Freeman, Executive Director, Center for Community Health Education Research and Service, Northeastern University; Co-Chair, Critical MASS

This program aired on October 11, 2007. The audio for this program is not available.

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Martha Bebinger covers health care and other general assignments for WBUR.



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