Report: Affordable Care Act making health coverage more accessible to young adults

March 22, 2012

Online Staff Report

Prior to passage of the Affordable Care Act, young adults were much more likely to be uninsured and about twice as likely as older adults to lose private insurance coverage, according to a new report released March 21 by Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

A previous HHS report showed that because of the new health care law, 2.5 million more young people were insured in June 2011 than were insured in September 2010.

The report also suggests the law will help young adults both keep and gain health insurance coverage. It follows other studies that show young adults are among those who will most benefit from the parts of the law designed to help people get and keep affordable health insurance coverage.

The president’s health law gives hard-working, middle-class families the security they deserve and health insurance to millions of young people,” Sebelius said. “Thanks to health reform, more young adults have insurance and parents have peace of mind knowing that their sons and daughters will be able to get the health care they need if they get sick or are in an accident.”

The new health care law generally allows young adults to maintain their dependent coverage up to age 26, even if they do not live with their parents or if they graduate from school. This policy took effect for insurance plan renewals beginning Sept. 23, 2010.

Under the provision of the law allowing young adults to stay under their parents’ plans, Steven Giallourakis — a 23-year-old bass player, pianist and two-time cancer survivor from Cleveland — has kept health insurance through his father’s plan at work. Steven’s mom, Angie, says she has peace of mind that her son is getting the care he needs to stay healthy.

The March 21 report also shows that about three in 10 young adults ages 19 to 25 who initially had private health insurance in 2008 were uninsured for at least one month over the next two years — more than twice the rate of older adults. Young adults were particularly at risk of losing coverage because they may have aged out of their parents’ coverage, moved between school and employment, or changed jobs.

The analysis also showed that insurance loss was most common among young adults with lower incomes. The average young adult who lost private insurance had a family income of 230 percent of the federal poverty level, compared to an average of 360 percent for those who did not lose coverage. This leaves them particularly vulnerable to not being able to pay the bills for an accident or illness.

Starting in 2014, there will be more options through the Affordable Care Act for coverage for young adults. New Affordable Insurance Exchanges, tax credits and Medicaid expansion is expected to result in 30 million more insured people, including as many as 10 million young adults.

The full research brief is available at: http://aspe.hhs.gov/health/reports/2012/UninsuredYoungAdults/rb.shtml

Steven Giallourakis’ story is available at: http://www.healthcare.gov/mycare

A report on insurance coverage among young adults of all races and ethnicities is available at: http://aspe.hhs.gov/health/reports/2012/UninsuredYoungAdults/rb.shtml

The HHS news release on minority young adults and the Affordable Care Act is available at: http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2012pres/03/20120307a.html

Posted March 22, 2012

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