Young adults are the least likely among all age groups to get outpatient medical care even though there is plenty of evidence that seeing a doctor once a year or so would benefit people ages 20 to 29 just as much as older or younger folks.
Annals of Internal Medicine used national survey data from 1996 to 2006 to show that annual visits for healthcare drops sharply between peaks of heavy usage in childhood and middle age. Young men, especially, are unlikely to get regular healthcare, as are people without insurance. About one-third of young adults are uninsured, according to the researchers from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. Young adults are also less likely to have a primary care doctor.
People in their 20s often appear to be in good health, which may lead many to conclude that they don't need healthcare. But numerous studies show that many health problems peak in early adulthood, including homicide, accidents, sexually transmitted diseases and substance abuse disorders. Rates of suicide, smoking, HIV infection and psychiatric disorders are also higher in this age group than in several other age groups. A large portion of young adults are overweight or obese or sedentary.
"In contrast to adolescents, young adults garner relatively little attention from researchers, advocacy groups, or policymakers," the authors wrote. "Our findings emphasize the need for a national agenda to improve access to care and preventive services for all young adults."
-- Shari Roan
Photo credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times