New Gains Seen in Health Insurance Coverage and Access to Care for Young Adults

By Dori Salcido, HHS Acting Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs
Posted December 20, 2012

The Affordable Care Act, the health care law signed by President Obama in 2010, has resulted in substantial increases in health insurance coverage for young adults, according to a new report published by Health Affairs.

The report posted online and scheduled for Health Affairs’ January issue, also shows that the law has led to significant reductions in the number of young adults who delayed or did not get needed care because of cost. The report provides proof that the health care law resulted in increased access to health care for young adults.

These gains have come due to the law’s provision that allows young adults to remain on their parents’ family plan until their 26th birthday, even if they move away from home or graduate from school. This policy took effect September 23, 2010, helping more than 3 million young adults gain health coverage.

For young adults like Justin Metcalf, who has a rare genetic lung disease, getting coverage means more security and the freedom to take the time to graduate school or choose the job that’s best for him without worrying whether it comes with health insurance.

Among the report’s findings:

  • Coverage for young adults was up 6.7 percentage points from September 2010 to September 2011.
  • Coverage gains have been significant across all racial and ethnic groups, married and unmarried young adults, and working and non-working individuals.
  • Coverage increases were significant for both men and women, although much larger for men, who had much lower coverage rates before the Affordable Care Act.
  • There were significant reductions in the number of young adults who delayed receiving care and in those who did not receive care because of cost.

This report is the latest to document how the health care law is helping millions of Americans gain access to affordable health care coverage and security they need and deserve.

And beginning in 2014, Americans will have even better coverage options with the creation of new health insurance marketplaces or Exchanges, in which individuals and small-business owners will have the opportunity to choose from a range of quality, affordable health plans to find one that fits their needs and budget.

The report can be found at http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/early/2012/12/13/hlthaff.2012.0552

For more information about the Affordable Care Act and young adults, please see http://www.aspe.hhs.gov/aspe/gaininginsurance/rb.shtml