Young adults are marrying to afford health insurance

Gabriella Cummings
Staff Writer

Margeret Gough, associate professor of sociology, explained the link between health insurance and cohabitation and marriage on to an audience of 19 people on Tuesday at her lecture titled “Longitudinal Models of Source of Health Insurance on Young Adults Cohabitation and Marriage” held via WebEx.

Gough said her research started last year in the fall, but was put on hold because of the pandemic.

She said she used longitudinal models to try to understand how health insurance and the source of it are related to cohabitation and marriage among adults and that prior to the Affordable Care Act, young adults were the most uninsured group in the United States.

“They had really high uninsurance rates and their out of pocket health care expenditures were pretty substantial. About 4% of them had medical expenses of more than $1,500 a year that they were paying out of pocket prior to the ACA going into that,” Gough said.

Gough said that health insurance coverage for young adults that was implemented in 2010 to 2011 was expanded to young adults up to the age of 26 through their parents even if they were not still enrolled in school. Before this anyone who was not enrolled in high school after the age of 18 could not be covered under their parents’ insurance.

“So prior to the ACA, if you were not enrolled in secondary education your health insurance access through your parents cut off either when you graduated high school or at age 18 for almost all insurance. If you were enrolled in post-secondary school, you could be covered up until you graduated or up until the age of 24,” Gough said.

She said that people decide to cohabitate and marry at a younger age, because they are looking for financial stability, accreditation, and the idea that they can save so they can afford a car or a house in the future, especially for low income adults.

“So this was particularly the case for low-income adults in America today when marriage has become very desirable,” Gough said. “Health care costs may play a role in terms of people’s decisions about whether they’re going to marry, whether they’re going to cohabit.”

Corina Ruelas, a sophomore criminology major, attended Gough’s presentation and said she was able to gain some major takeaways from it.

“Something I took away was that it’s so unfortunate that health care coverage is so expensive that it makes people consider getting married in order to be able to afford it with both salaries rather than getting married solely because they’re in love,” she said.

Gabriella Cummings can be reached at

Gabriella Cummings
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