Coverage for 2.5M Young Adults

This article published with permission from The Burrill Report.

The health care legislation signed into law by President Obama in 2010 has helped as many as 2.5 million young adults gain medical coverage over the last year, new data released by the federal government indicates.

The data is much more telling when considering that earlier this year, government and private estimates showed that only about 1 million Americans aged 19 to 25 had gained health insurance coverage. The large increase in numbers, administration officials say, was due to more precise data gathering that aimed to conclusively pinpoint the impact of the health care provision.

Young adults have traditionally been the most likely demographic to be uninsured. Some are making the switch from school to work while others are holding down low-wage jobs that don’t usually provide health care. Because of the Affordable Care Act, young adults can now remain on their parents’ insurance plans through age 26. The provision has spurred families to sign up young adults transitioning to the workforce in a difficult economic environment.

The National Center for Health Statistics in a brief said that the new data from the June 2011 National Health Interview Survey showed that from September 2010 to June 2011, the percentage of adults 19 to 25 with insurance coverage increased to 73% from 64%.

The allowance of young adults to remain on their parents’ health plans is not nearly as expensive as expanding coverage to other demographics because young adults are generally healthy. But the rise in the number of young people who are relying on their parents for health care coverage may actually underscore how bad our economy is, says Paul Fronstin, senior research associate at the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

“If you have all these young adults who can’t find jobs, they can’t get health coverage on their own," he told The Los Angeles Times. “I don’t know if we would have seen the same effect if unemployment was down below 4%.”

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