Reform Law Could Extend Coverage to 13.7 Million Young Adults, Report Says

By Staff Report

May. 24, 2010

As many as 13.7 million uninsured young adults could qualify for health coverage under several provisions of the health care reform law, which would alleviate medical debt for this age group, according to the Commonwealth Fund.

Health insurers are required to extend dependent coverage to people up to age 26 for all individual and group policies, starting this September, though many insurers have already begun offering this benefit. This provision could cover 1.2 million young adults next year, of whom 650,000 are uninsured and 550,000 have individual coverage, according to the report.

Expanded Medicaid eligibility, starting in 2014 under the health reform law, could provide coverage for up to 7.1 million uninsured young adults, the Commonwealth Fund said. Also that year, insurance exchanges and premium subsidies could help more young adults gain coverage, the report said.

An end to the practice of gender rating, under the reform law, could help young women get affordable coverage, according to the fund.

“The affordability issue is significant for this age group,” said Sara Collins, vice president for affordable health insurance for the Commonwealth Fund.

Some 76 percent of uninsured young adults went without needed medical care because of costs last year, and about 60 percent of uninsured in this age group had trouble paying medical bills, according to a national phone survey conducted by the Commonwealth Fund in May and June 2009 of about 2,000 young adults nationwide.

By Rebecca Vesely of Modern Healthcare, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail

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