Uninsured Rate for Young Adults Declines

When the ACA was signed into law, I was still in college, sitting in the basement of the student union half working on a group project, and half following the news. My friends and I were ecstatic to be a part of this momentous time in history. As young adults on the cusp of entering the “real world”, we were also excited about the health coverage opportunities created for us: the option to remain on our parents insurance until 26, the choice to enter the health insurance marketplace, potential eligibility for Medicaid (if the state of residence expanded coverage), and granting former foster youth Medicaid eligibility until 26. Now in 2014, we have even better news on young adults. As Joan Alker wrote about, the CDC recently released their NHIS data for the first quarter of 2014. The data show that the uninsured rate for young adults, ages 19-25, has declined from 26.5 percent in 2013 to 20.9 percent in the first quarter of 2014. While we cannot say for certain that the decline in the uninsured young adults is due to the ACA, there is no doubt it has played a significant role in coverage for this population. And though we’ve made strides within this population, the NHIS data also found that 14.9 percent of young adults were uninsured for more than a year, indicating there’s still work to be done.

Health coverage is important for young adults, making it easier to access necessary health care. For example, a recent study published in Health Affairs found that young adults who remained on their parents’ coverage, due to the ACA provision, received more mental health treatment when compared to a group of similar people ages 26-35 years. Young adults may also be on their way to starting their own family (as my Facebook newsfeed indicates), and as we’ve discussed at CCF covering parents helps kids.  And, at a time when many young adults are graduating with large amounts of student debt, health coverage can help prevent young people from sinking further into debt if a medical incident were to occur. Overall, the NHIS provides positive news for young adults, but work still remains to be done to cover the remaining uninsured.

Written by Sophia Duong. Cross-posted from Say Ahh! Children's Health Policy Blog.