The number of young adults 18-25 covered by health insurance grew by about 900,000 as families flocked to take advantage of a new benefit in the health-care law.
Young adults, long the group most likely to be uninsured, are gaining health coverage faster than expected since the 2010 health law began allowing parents to cover them as dependents on family policies.
Three new surveys, including two released Wednesday, show that adults younger than 26 made significant gains in insurance coverage in 2010 and the first half of 2011. One survey, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), estimates that in the first quarter of 2011 there were 900,000 fewer uninsured adults in the 19-to-25 age bracket than in 2010.
The Obama administration attributes the improvement to a provision of the Affordable Care Act that permits parents to cover dependents up to their 26th birthday. Until that measure took effect last year, children typically had to roll off their parents’ policies at 18 or 21 or when they left college.
Kylie Logsdon, credits the provision for enabling her heart transplant in July. “I honestly don’t know what we would have done,” said Logsdon, 23, of Gerlaw, Ill., who gained coverage under her father’s policy after losing her job as a legal secretary. “There was no way we could have afforded it.”
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Last week, the Census Bureau reported the share of young adults without health insurance dropped in 2010 by 2 percentage points, to 27.2 percent. That meant 502,000 fewer 18-to-24-year-olds were uninsured.
For every other age cohort, the proportion without insurance increased, as high unemployment and contractions in employer coverage continued to take their toll. For the first time in more than 10 years, 18- to 24-year-olds were not the least insured group, having been overtaken by those 25 to 34.
On Wednesday, the CDC released a separate survey showing that the health-coverage trend may have accelerated in the first quarter of 2011. The National Health Interview Survey, which differs in methodology from the census count, estimates that 900,000 fewer adults ages 19 to 25 were uninsured in the first quarter of this year than in 2010. A Gallup-Healthways poll out Wednesday showed the rate of uninsured adults 18 to 25 fell from 28 percent last fall to 24.2 percent in the second quarter of this year.
There have been no studies of the provision’s impact on cost. But Mark Olson, a senior actuary with Towers Watson, a human-resources consulting firm, said the law raised enrollments and premiums by between 1 percent and 3 percent at many firms.
Material from the Tribune Washington bureau is included
in this report.