Adolescent Health – Top Concerns and Policy Implications
|October 25, 2011||Posted by M. P. under Behavorial Health, Drug and Alcohol, Federal Government, Health, Youth Development||
According to a brief from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, the lessons learned about healthful living during one’s youth continue into adulthood, increasing the importance of accessible, quality healthcare for young people during their adolescent and teenage years. The publication, Adolescent Health: Coverage and Access to Care from October 2011, explores the major health concerns for tweens and teens (10 to 18 years old) as well as the expected impact of the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA) on coverage and ideas for future policy initiatives.
Based on reports of behaviors from the 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, the primary areas of concern around the health of youth ages 10 –18 are:
- Violence (adolescents 12 to 15 years old are more likely to become the victim of violence than any other group in the country )
- Nutrition and physical activity (troubling rates of obesity among teenagers)
- Use of controlled and illegal substances (drugs, alcohol and tobacco and their impact on physical and mental health)
- Sexual activity (rates of sexually transmitted infection, assault, pregnancy)
According to the authors of the brief Esme Cullen and Alina Salganicoff, federal data show youth ages 10 to 18 years have the highest rate of health coverage compared to other age groups, yet approximately 4 million remain uninsured even when over half are eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). ACA provisions set to begin 2014 may close this gap through increasing eligibility for public health coverage and subsidies with which families may purchase private insurance. These policy changes are expected to lead to an increase in regular medical care of adolescents, including annual well-visits (preventive care) and the identification of risky behaviors, behavioral health or developmental concerns. However, as the authors correctly point out, only if medical professionals are prepared to address delicate topics such as drug and alcohol use, sexual activity and other risky lifestyle choices will the preventative care afforded to adolescents improve their health and future well-being.
Do these concerns and policy priorities line up with your experience with youth in community, school or program settings?
If you work with youth you may also be interested in a the resources for youth alcohol education, assessment and intervention found on the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)’s website.