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New data: Affordable Care Act helps 600,000 additional young adults in the West get health insurance

Expanded coverage from the health care law has continued to grow

Today, the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data illustrating that the Affordable Care Act continues to significantly increase the number of young adults who have health insurance.

Because of the health care law, young adults can stay on their parents' insurance plans through age 26.  This policy took effect in September 2010.  Data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) shows that since September 2010, the percentage of adults aged 19-25 covered by a private health insurance plan increased significantly, with approximately 2.5 million more young adults with insurance coverage compared to the number of young adults who would have been insured without the law.

In the West States (Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, Alaska, and Hawaii), this equates to about 600,000 more young adults with insurance because of the law.

What this means is that young adults like Maura Firth, a recent graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder. Not only did she need to find a job after graduation, but she needed to find a job that provided substantial health insurance so she could get the care that she needs.

“I cannot imagine what my life (and health) would be like if insurance coverage was not expanded until age 26,” Ms. Firth said.

Maura now works for a non-profit organization, and even though it does provide health insurance, it advises students to stay on their parents plan if possible as many non-profit organizations cannot provide extensive coverage. Maura does not take the privilege of having good health coverage through her parents’ plan lightly, especially given that her mother has stage four breast cancer. She thoroughly understands the importance of being covered and can enjoy the opportunity she has with her job at the non-profit without having to worry about health coverage.

“Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, 2.5 million more young adults don’t have to live with the fear and uncertainty of going without health insurance,” said Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  “Moms and dads around the country can breathe a little easier knowing their children are covered.”

Data from the first three months of 2011 showed that one million more young adults had insurance coverage compared to a year ago.  The numbers announced today show a continuation of the coverage gains due to the health care law as students graduate from high school and college in May and June and otherwise would have lost coverage. 

The data released today are consistent with estimates from surveys released earlier in the year.  Those surveys have shown an increase in the number and percentage of young adults 19 to 25 with health insurance coverage.  Specifically, the Census Bureau and the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index Survey, as well as the NHIS release of data through March 2011, reported similar trends through early 2011. 

Today’s results, highlighted in an HHS issue brief, show that the initial gains from the health care law have continued to grow. 

“The data announced today show that, because of the health care law, there is a continued and consistent pattern of improved health coverage among young adults,” said Sherry Glied, Ph.D., HHS assistant secretary for planning and evaluation.  “The Affordable Care Act has helped literally millions of young adults get the health insurance they need so they can begin their careers with the peace of mind that they’re covered.”

For more information about this announcement, please see the HHS Issue Brief at http://aspe.hhs.gov/health/reports/2011/YoungAdultsACA/ib.shtml

For more information about the CDC NHIS data released today, please visit http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhis/earlyrelease/insur201109.pdf

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