More Young Adults Have Health Insurance Study Says Number of Uninsured Fell by One-Sixth, Largest Decline since 1997

By Tavernise, Sabrina | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), September 10, 2012 | Go to article overview

More Young Adults Have Health Insurance Study Says Number of Uninsured Fell by One-Sixth, Largest Decline since 1997


Tavernise, Sabrina, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


WASHINGTON --

The share of young adults without health insurance fell by one- sixth in 2011 from the previous year, the largest annual decline for any age group since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began collecting the data in 1997, according to a new report released today.

The estimates are drawn from a federal survey of about 35,000 households. It did not ask how the newly insured obtained coverage, but the study's author, Matthew Broaddus, a research analyst at the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said the increased coverage for young people was almost certainly due to a provision in the Obama administration's Affordable Care Act that allows children to stay on their parents' insurance policies until their 26th birthday.

Joseph Antos, a health care policy expert at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, agreed that the provision of the new law was the only plausible explanation for the increase. He pointed out that young people have been among the hardest hit in the recession and would otherwise have been expected to be less likely to be insured. "Nothing else went well for this age group," he said.

The share of people ages 19-25 who lacked health insurance fell to 27.9 percent, down from 33.9 percent in 2010, or about 1.6 million fewer uninsured people, according to the data from the federal study, known as the National Health Interview Survey. For the next age group -- those 26-35 years old -- the share of the uninsured rose, a further sign, Mr. Broaddus said, that the health care law was driving the decline among the younger group.

The dependents' provision of the health care law took effect in September 2010, and the number of uninsured young adults declined that year, too, though by a smaller amount. Obama administration officials said that drop showed that the law, which was broadly opposed by Republicans, was having an effect.

The decrease in the number of young adults without health coverage helped drive an overall decline in the share of uninsured people in the country, the first since 2007, before the recession.

The share of all Americans without health insurance stood at 15.1 percent in 2011, or about 46 million people, the center reported, down from 16 percent in 2010. …

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