Health Insurance and Mobility

The Commonwealth Fund has a new study out on a topic near and dear to my heart: young adults. In particular, most of them don’t have health insurance, since after they pass the tender age of 19, they either get booted off their parents’ dependent coverage, or booted off Medicaid, or booted off CHIP. Meanwhile, many graduates lose coverage immediately after leaving college. And hey, we may look healthy, but not always—pregnancies, emergency room visits, diabetes—and young adults are less able to handle catastrophic costs than are, say, older adults who have saved up the money.

At any rate, the paper notes that it’s relatively easy to cover young adults, but as with most such studies, merely makes the moral case for doing so. Hey, I love the moral case; it’s a great case. But I figure most people either believe that millions of uninsured Americas are a moral scandal or they don’t. Fortunately, the paper hints at an economic case for covering young adults as well:

Contrary to conventional wisdom, young adults do not so easily dismiss the risks of not having health coverage. When the Biennial Health Insurance Survey questioned young workers about their desire for health insurance, seven of 10 of those between 19 and 29 years of age said that health insurance was very important to them in deciding whether or not to take a job, a rate similar to that for older workers.

In an ideal labor market, people would take the job they were best-suited for, so that we could properly harness everyone’s productive and creative capabilities and launch our way into the 21st century. Etcetra. But this survey suggests that a lack of coverage may be skewing the employment choices young people make. It’s possible that this affects older adults to, where, say, a parent might remain in a job she isn’t best suited for because she’s afraid of losing coverage for her family. In theory, the economy of the future should have a lot of labor mobility and people switching from one job to the next quite frequently; but a lack of health insurance will only gum up the works.


The more we thought about how MoJo's journalism can have the most impact heading into the 2020 election, the more we realized that so many of today's stories come down to corruption: democracy and the rule of law being undermined by the wealthy and powerful for their own gain.

So we're launching a new Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption. We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We'll publish what we find as a major series in the summer of 2020, including a special issue of our magazine, a dedicated online portal, and video and podcast series so it doesn't get lost in the daily deluge of breaking news.

It's unlike anything we've done before and we've got seed funding to get started, but we're asking readers to help crowdfund this new beat with an additional $500,000 so we can go even bigger. You can read why we're taking this approach and what we want to accomplish in "Corruption Isn't Just Another Scandal. It's the Rot Beneath All of Them," and if you like how it sounds, please help fund it with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.