Young adults lack health insurance at the highest rate of any age group, and have the lowest rate of access to employer-based insurance. However, a recent study from The Commonwealth Fund found that the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148) is already making a difference for them.
Signed into law by President Obama in March 2010, the Act puts into place comprehensive health care reforms that will roll into effect over the next few years, with most of the changes happening in 2014. The law has several provisions that affect small business owners, including small employer tax credits which the NASE has been supportive of.
Under the new law, dependents may stay on their parent’s plan until their 26th birthday, regardless of whether they are married, living with their parents, or financially dependent on their parents. Previously, young adults lost their healthcare coverage when they graduated from high school or college.
According to the most recent U.S. Census data, nearly 15 million people ages 19 to 29 – one-third of the people in that age group – were without health insurance. The number of uninsured young adults increased steadily throughout the decade, from 10.9 million uninsured in 2000.
However, the Commonwealth study found that the legislation appears to have turned the tide for young adults: A Gallup poll found an increase of 600,000 young adult enrollees in five health plans since the law went into effect, and that the rate of uninsured fell in the early part of 2011. The study also suggests that when all health plans and employers with dependents are required to provide coverage to young adults by September 2011, the uninsured rate will continue to decrease.
When the central provisions of the law go into effect in 2014, nearly 7.2 million young adults will become eligible for newly expanded coverage under the Medicaid program, and an additional 4.9 million will qualify for newly subsidized private coverage under the law due to their economic status.