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ACA boosted access to young adults, report says

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Jan. 14, 2013

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The Affordable Care Act’s provision that allows dependent young adults to stay on their parents’ health insurance until age 26 has improved access to care for this population, especially for those in poor health, according to a study published online in December 2012 in Health Affairs.

At least 3 million young adults have gained coverage under this provision, its impact spanning across all racial and ethnic groups and for those with and without jobs, the study said. “This increase in coverage made it easier for young adults to afford needed medical care, with a significant reduction in the number of 19- to 25-year-olds who delayed or did not get care because of cost,” the authors stated. The lead researcher on the study is a senior health policy adviser to the Dept. of Health and Human Services.

Coverage gains were the greatest among those with the worst health problems, along with men, nonstudents and unmarried young adults. Sicker individuals and nonstudents in particular probably had the fewest options available to them before the ACA’s enactment, with people in poor health previously subject to coverage denials and exclusions in the nongroup insurance market, the study stated. Before the ACA’s enactment, parents had been able to cover children ages 18 to 22 on their plans only if the dependents had been full-time students, although some businesses had longer enrollments for dependents.

The study’s authors used data from two national surveys, the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health Interview Survey, to compile their research (link).

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