Health law keeps 2.5 million young adults insured

Wed Dec 14, 2011 7:16pm EST

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(Reuters) - U.S. healthcare reforms have enabled 2.5 million young adults to join or remain in their parents' health insurance plans, the U.S. government said on Wednesday, up from 1 million reported earlier this year.

Federal officials fully credited the gains to the Affordable Care Act, legislation championed by President Barack Obama that took effect last year and is deemed the biggest overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system in nearly 50 years.

The law aims broadly to eventually provide medical insurance to more than 30 million uninsured Americans, and in September last year allowed young adults to stay on their parents' private insurance plans through age 26. The provision is perhaps the single most popular element of the highly-divisive law and the announcement on Wednesday elicited little reaction from congressional Republicans.

That age group previously recorded the highest uninsured rate but the new report showed they no longer do. Now 26- to 35-year-olds have that dubious distinction by a narrow margin, according to a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The jump to 2.5 million young adults reported on Wednesday came as many graduated from high school and college in May and June and otherwise would have lost coverage, health officials said.

Since the policy helping young adults took effect in September 2010, the percentage of adults ages 19 to 25 covered by a private health insurance plan has increased to 73 percent in June from 64 percent, the Department of Health and Human Services said.

Over that time no change was observed in the insurance rate of adults age 26 to 35, 72 percent of whom are insured.

"Young adults were twice as likely to go without insurance... they were taking real risks," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told reporters.

"Today, 2.5 million more young Americans are no longer living with that fear. Mothers and fathers can breathe a little easier."

Federal officials said data from the first three months of 2011 showed that 1 million more young adults had coverage compared with a year ago. The U.S. Census Bureau's report earlier this year showed that about half a million more Americans age 18 to 24 received health care coverage last year.

Dozens of states and a field of contenders for the Republican presidential nomination have attacked the Affordable Care Act, sometimes dubbed "Obamacare." They hope to repeal the legislation, saying it is a symbol of intrusive government seeking to raise taxes and burden businesses with new regulation.

The U.S. Supreme Court is preparing to review the reforms, as a sharply divided public watches from the sidelines.

(Reporting by Ransdell Pierson in New York and Alina Selyukh in Washington, editing by Matthew Lewis and Carol Bishopric)

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Comments (8)
Brooklyn1 wrote:
It is apparent that the authors of this article don’t know what they are talking about and that rather thsn objectively reporting on facts as they relate to news they are on a re-elect Obama campaign. The fact is… these 2.5 million kids have to be lucky enough to be the offspring of parents that have a job – number 1 and number 2 a job that offers health insurance and number 3 – the parent has to be earning enough money to pay any share of the premium that the employer requires of the employee as a contribution. In times when jobs were more plentiful a 24 year old college graduate would get a job -often one that offered health insurance so they did not need to continue on parent coverage. Shame on you for missing these essential points.

Dec 14, 2011 7:39pm EST  --  Report as abuse
SBushway wrote:
@Brooklyn – the reason why there are only 2.5 vs 35 million young adults added to their parent’s insurance is because the economy isn’t doing so well – it didn’t need to be said. Everything you whined about is common-sense and doesn’t need to be repeated. In addition your lot in life (which is your fault) doesn’t change the facts of the story.

Dec 14, 2011 8:04pm EST  --  Report as abuse
policywhiz wrote:
We should face the facts. 1. Young people are on the roles because they rarely need insurance coverage because they are mostly healthy so the government can USE them by forcing them to buy insurance so that it will help the government pay for the 30 to 60 year olds who are also forced to be in their government run program. Sorry, the hype of this story is transparent and disappointing. In the end, none of us will want to be on the downgraded government health care program and if we want on it we will not be able to find a doctor! I hope the Supreme Court knocks the whole Government Program down!

Dec 14, 2011 9:03pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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