Young Adults Make Gains In Health Coverage

September 23, 2011

New data indicate as many as a million young adults have signed up for health insurance in the last year, offering evidence that this 2010 health law benefit is proving to be popular. 

The New York Times: Young Adults Make Gains In Health Insurance Coverage
Three new surveys, including two released on Wednesday, show that adults under 26 made significant and unique gains in insurance coverage in 2010 and the first half of 2011. One of them, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, estimates that in the first quarter of 2011 there were 900,000 fewer uninsured adults in the 19-to-25 age bracket than in 2010 (Sack, 9/21).

Los Angeles Times: Coverage Rises As Young Adults Take Advantage Of Obama Law
As many as a million young adults have signed up for health insurance in the last year, new data indicate, suggesting an early benefit of the health care law President Obama signed last year (Levey, 9/21).

The Associated Press: Young Adults With Health Insurance Up By About A Million; Obama's Big 2010 Overhaul Credited
At least one part of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul has proven popular. With the economy sputtering, the number of young adults covered by health insurance grew by about a million as families flocked to take advantage of a new benefit in the law. Two surveys released Wednesday — one by the government, another by Gallup — found significantly fewer young adults going without coverage even as the overall number of uninsured remained high (Alonso-Zaldivar, 9/21).

The Wall Street Journal Health Blog: Health Law Means Fewer Young Adults Go Without Insurance
Data released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that in the first quarter of 2011, the percentage of adults between ages 19 and 25 without health insurance fell 3.5 percentage points — to 30.4 percent. That translates to about an additional 1 million people that got coverage from the previous year. It's the third survey in recent weeks to credit a piece of the health law with giving more young adults insurance (Census Bureau data and a Gallup poll were the other sources). Researchers say the cause is a provision that, starting last year, allowed young adults to stay on their parents' insurance plan until their 26th birthday (Adamy, 9/21).

Kaiser Health News: Capsules: Nearly 1 Million Young Adults Get Insurance Under Health Law
More people have gained coverage under the young adults' provision than any other part of the 2010 health overhaul. However, the major coverage expansion will occur in 2014 when an estimated 32 million people would begin to gain coverage as a result of increased eligibility for Medicaid and creation of new health insurance exchanges where people can buy subsidized coverage. Medicaid is the state-federal health insurance program for the poor and disabled (Galewitz, 9/21).

Politico Pro: Young Adult Coverage Not A Game-Changer
Now that there's evidence that health reform has expanded coverage to about 1 million young adults, Democrats will have a tangible benefit to take to the voters in 2012. But it's probably not enough to win over a lot of the skeptics. The public's view of the reform law hasn’t changed in months, and public opinion experts have said it's unlikely to change until people see real benefits of the law, namely, the expansion of coverage Americans were promised. Wednesday's announcement that 1 million more young adults between ages 19 and 25 have health coverage this year most likely because of the reform law is a piece — but only a piece — of that expansion. The law's benefit for young adults, letting them stay on their parents' coverage until age 26, was one of the first provisions to go into effect and has little to do with the broader coverage expansions and insurance changes that will start in 2014 (Nather, 9/22).

This article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.