January 10, 2012

Paul Fronstin has found evidence that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (2010) has done some Americans some good.

Fronstin, a researcher at the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), Washington, has published the evidence in a look at the effects of the PPACA young adult health insurance requirements on U.S. residents ages 19 to 25.

Typical group health plans that offered dependent coverage were making dependent coverage available to children up to age 18, and to older children who were still in college.

Moved by stories about young adults who died or suffered serious health problems after losing access to dependent coverage, many states then enacted laws requiring plans to make dependent coverage available to adult children in their teens and twenties who were no longer in school.

Starting with policy years that began on or after Sept. 23, 2010, PPACA has been requiring plans that offer dependent coverage to make the coverage available to adult children ages 19 to 25 as well as to children ages 18 and younger.

Fronstin studied the effects of the provision by looking at the most recent government survey data, including figures from late 2010 and, in some cases, early 2011 from the Current Population Survey, the Survey of Income and Program Participation, and the National Health Interview Survey.

Managers of the National Health Interview Survey, which is conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), are the only ones who have published 2011 coverage data, Fronstin says.

That survey program has not published data on the percentage of the population with employment-based dependent coverage, so Fronstin compared data for all Americans ages 19 to 25 with date for all Americans ages 18 to 64.

The percentage of all adults with private health coverage held steady at about 64%, but the percentage of adults ages 19 to 25 with private coverage jumped to 55.8% in the summer of 2011, from 51% in 2010. The percentage of adults in that age group who were completely uninsured fell to 28.8%, from 33.9%, over the same period, Fronstin says.

The other surveys paint a similar picture, Fronstin says.

“Data from these three surveys show that PPACA has had a positive effect on the percentage of young adults with employment-based coverage as a dependent,” Fronstin says.