Press Release

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December 19, 2012

Sue Ducat
Director of Communications
(301) 841-9962


From Health Affairs


Millions Of Young Americans Gained Health Insurance Since the ACA's Enactment


Bethesda, MD -- A new study, being released today as a Web First by Health Affairs, finds that the provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) permitting young adults to remain on their parents' health insurance plans up to the age of 26 has led to significant increases in coverage for people ages 19-25. Although historically, Americans in their early 20s had the lowest rate of insurance coverage of any age group (68.1 percent in the five years before the ACA), the study found that by the third quarter of 2011, a year after this provision was enacted, an additional 7.6 percent gained coverage.


According to the study, the increases in coverage were apparent across all racial and ethnic groups and for both working and nonworking adults. However, men, unmarried adults, nonstudents, and those with worse health statuses were most likely to have gained coverage. This increase in coverage made it easier for young adults to afford needed medical care, with a significant reduction in the number of 19-25 year olds who delayed or did not get care because of cost. This study, which will also appear in the January issue of Health Affairs, is believed to be the first to demonstrate that the provision has resulted in increased access to care among young adults.


The Affordable Care Act Has Led To Significant Gains In Health Insurance And Access To Care For Young Adults


By Benjamin D. Sommers, Thomas Buchmueller, Sandra L. Decker, Colleen Carey, and Richard Kronick


Sommers and Kronick are in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation at the US Department of Health and Human Services; Buchmueller teaches at the University of Michigan's school of business; Decker is affiliated with the National Center for Health Statistics; and Carey is a doctoral candidate in economics at the Johns Hopkins University.


The authors used data from two nationally representative surveys: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Health Interview Survey as well as the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. Previous research shows that health insurance increases access to care, which ultimately may lead to reduced morbidity and mortality. The authors note, "Our study found that the coverage gains under the Affordable Care Act were indeed associated with significant reductions in barriers to care for this age group."

About Health Affairs

Health Affairs is the leading journal at the intersection of health, health care, and policy. Published by Project HOPE, the peer-reviewed journal appears each month in print, with additional Web First papers published periodically and health policy briefs published twice monthly at You can also find the journal on Facebook and Twitter. Read daily perspectives on Health Affairs Blog. Download weekly Narrative Matters podcasts on iTunes.

The full text of each Health Affairs Web First paper is available free of charge to all Web-site visitors for a two-week period following posting, after which it switches to pay-per-view for nonsubscribers. Web First papers are supported in part by a grant from The Commonwealth Fund.