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America's Young Adults: Special Issue, 2014

Usual Source of Health Care

Having a usual source of care—a particular person or place a young adult goes to for sick and preventive care—facilitates the appropriate use of health services and is associated with better health. 46, 47 Young adults with a usual source of care also are more likely to receive preventive services.47, 48 Although young adults are generally healthy, some may have medical conditions or injuries requiring health care, and all have a need for recommended preventive and reproductive health services.49, 50, 51

Indicator Health1: Percentage of young adults ages 18–24 with a usual source of health care by insurance type, 1997–2012
Percentage of young adults ages 18–24 with a usual source of health care by insurance type, 1997–2012

NOTE: A small number of young adults were covered by both Medicaid or other public health insurance and private insurance and are only included in the private insurance coverage group. Hospital emergency rooms are excluded as a usual source of care.

SOURCE: National Center for Health Statistics, National Health Interview Survey.

  • In 2012, 71 percent of young adults ages 18–24 had a usual source of health care; this was not significantly different from the percentage in 1997.
  • Young adults with health insurance coverage, either private or public, were more likely to have a usual source of health care than young adults who were uninsured. In 2012, more than 80 percent of insured young adults had a usual source of health care. This was twice the percentage of uninsured young adults who had a usual source of health care (39 percent).
  • Between 1997 and 2012, the percentage of uninsured young adults who had a usual source of health care decreased from 50 to 39 percent.
  • In 2012, a higher percentage of young adults with family incomes 200 percent or more of the poverty level (78 percent) had a usual source of health care compared with young adults with family incomes below the poverty level (68 percent) and those with family incomes 100–199 percent of the poverty level (64 percent).
  • In 2012, a higher percentage of White, non-Hispanic young adults (77 percent) had a usual source of health care compared with Black, non-Hispanic (68 percent) and Hispanic (59 percent) young adults.

table icon YAHEALTH1 HTML Table

46 Bloom, B., Simpson, G., Cohen, R.A., and Parsons, P.E. (1997). Access to health care. Part 2: Working-age adults. National Vital Statistics Reports 10, 197, Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics.

47 Starfield, B., and Shi, L. (2004). The medical home, access to care, and insurance: A review of evidence. Pediatrics, 113(S4), 1493–1498.

48 Ettner, S.L. (1996). The timing of preventive services for women and children: the effect of having a usual source of care. American Journal of Public Health, 86(12), 1748–54.

49 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2000). Oral health in America: A report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health. Retrieved from http://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/ps/access/NNBBJT.pdf.

50 American Optometric Association. Comprehensive eye and vision examination. Retrieved from http://www.aoa.org/eye-exams.xml.

51 U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. (2012). Screening for cervical cancer: Recommendations and rationale. Retrieved from http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/uspscerv.htm.