Having health insurance is very important because without it, paying for health care can be very expensive.

Lapses of insurance are common in the young adult population.  In 2002, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that the prevalence of uninsured individuals between 19-29 years of age was 20-30%.  A 2001 survey of income and program participation found that for people between 15-25 years of age, 37% of patients without disability, 43% of patients with “non-severe” disability and 41% of patients with severe disability had 1 episode without insurance.  Youth with special health care needs account for 13% of total youth, but over 70% of medical expenditures.  Thus, any lapse in insurance for this medically at-risk population can be catastrophic for continuity of care.

Use the links in the side bar for more information on public insurance.


Transition-Age Health Insurance Options


  • Parent’s Insurance: Adolescents and young adults can stay on their parent’s plan until the age of 26. This is true even if they have other insurance options available to them. This does not apply to young adults on Medicaid–they have to apply for their own Medicaid by the time they are 19 years old.


  • Employer Plans: The most common type of insurance used by adults. Many employers will offer insurance plans as part of one’s benefits. This is usually the most affordable option because employers will usually pay for part of the insurance policy. Colleges also offer similar plans.


  • Individual Plans: Young adults can buy insurance on their own if it is not provided as part of a larger group (employer, school/college plans). This can be somewhat more expensive, but there are Health Insurance Exchanges to help individuals looking to purchase their own policies to help them choose the insurance policy that best fits their needs. Illinois also has it’s own health insurance exchange.


  • COBRA: COBRA stands for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985. In the event of a sudden discontinuation of insurance, this allows people to continue buying the plan they are on, as to prevent lapses in coverage.


  • Short-Term Policy: Similar to COBRA, these plans are specifically for people transitioning from school to employment. These policies exist to bridge the gap between school and one’s first job.


  • Medicaid: Medicaid is a state-funded type of health insurance that is available to individuals with low-income and certain disabilities. See the link in the sidebar for more information.


  • Medicare: People who have certain disabilities who have received Social Security Disability Benefits for at least 24 months may be eligible for health insurance through Medicare. See the link in the sidebar for more information.