1 million more young adults now have health insurance under ACA

More evidence that President Obama’s healthcare reform program is beneficial:  Since the Affordable Care Act went into effect, young adults—who typically are the least insured because of either a sense of invincibility or a lack of funds [or both]—have been  joining the ranks of the insured, now that they can be covered, through age 26, by their  parents’ plans.

The Affordable Care Act allows children to remain on their parents’ health insurance plans until age 26.  This policy took effect for insurance plan renewals beginning on September 23, 2010, and was designed to address the fact that young adults are the age group least likely to have health insurance.  This is one of the important early provisions in the Affordable Care Act designed to expand insurance coverage to uninsured Americans.

New results released today by the National Center for Health Statistics show that the dependent coverage provision of the Affordable Care Act has had a significant impact on improving insurance coverage among young adults.

Data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) show that in the first quarter of 2011, the percentage of adults between the ages of 19 and 25 with health insurance increased to 69.6%, from 66.1% in 2010.  This 3.5 percentage-point increase represents approximately one million additional young adults with insurance.  Data from Gallup and the Census Bureau released this month show similar findings.

Detractors of “Obamacare” will undoubtedly try to explain away these statistics, citing alternative causes for the upswing in young adults getting health coverage. But they’ll have a hard time making a solid case. The study’s authors looked at explanations beyond ACA and concluded:

While it is theoretically possible that the increase in insurance coverage for young adults in 2011 is due to some factor other than the Affordable Care Act, it is hard to identify a plausible alternative explanation for the increase in coverage among young adults. One possibility is that the recession did not affect young adults as much as other age groups, but in fact, the opposite occurred.  Unemployment among 20-24 year-olds increased by 7.3 percentage points (from 8.2% to 15.5%) from 2006 to 2010, compared to a 4.8 percentage-point increase among 25-54 year-olds (from 3.8% to 8.6%). Given the toll the recession has taken on employment among young adults, we would expect that insurance rates would, if anything, have decreased in this group compared to older adults.  This observation bolsters the conclusion that the increase in coverage among young adults is a result of the Affordable Care Act.

As for health insurance companies, they’d be smart to remain silent on this issue. Under the terms of ACA’s individual mandate, they’ve gained millions of new customers [meaning additional income from premiums], and can hardly complain about financial hardship.

It stands to reason [if it’s even possible to count on reason in the current, irrational political environment], that, as more consumer-friendly provisions of ACA take effect,  people will learn to love “Obamacare,” despite the negative propaganda from the right.