The 2016 Kids Count in Nebraska Report includes an in-depth look at the first steps young people take along their transition away from childhood – emerging adulthood. This is a time of profound growth and development coupled with frequent life changes. The decisions made during these years lead to lifelong decisions impacted the next generation of Nebraska’s workforce and families. Our first post in this series investigating our commentary introduced some of the characteristics of emerging adults and provided an overview of this population in Nebraska. Today, we look at the health of these young Nebraskans with some data highlights in risk behaviors, health insurance, and mental health.
Of great interest in this data in the dramatic decrease in uninsured emerging adults in Nebraska. In 2009, nearly one-third of emerging adults ages 19-25 were uninsured. With the enactment of the Affordable Care Act (“ObamaCare”), insurance coverage has been expanded to these young people due to provisions allowing them to remain on their parent’s health insurance plan until age 26 or to purchase insurance directly through the Health Care Marketplace. Typically, working-age Americans get their health care coverage through an employer, meaning for many emerging adults who are in school full-time or are working in a job where health insurance is not offered, it was difficult to obtain affordable coverage. The ACA created health insurance options for emerging adults who were not previously eligible for coverage and allowed emerging adults greater flexibility to explore different career and educational paths without being tied to a job for the sake of health insurance. With the enactment of dependent coverage, the uninsured rate among 18-24-year-olds in Nebraska dropped by more than 50% from 2009 to 2015 from 25.5% uninsured to 12.4%, helping to lead the nation toward our lowest uninsured rate in recorded history. The increases in access to coverage have led to increased access to health care for young people, and has improved their health and financial security which may potentially generate long-term economic benefits.
Stay tuned over the next several weeks as we continue to share data and recommendations on Nebraska’s Emerging Adults from our 2016 Kids Count in Nebraska Report.