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Health reform helps add 2.5 million young adults to insured ranks

The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) released new data yesterday showing 2.5 million more adults 26 and under had health insurance than would have without passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The growth of insurance covergae among people age 19-25  is directly related to a provision in the health reform law that allows young adults to stay on their family's health insurance plan through age 26.

[See also: Latest census figures show 49.9M lack health insurance; Gallup: Uninsured rate is highest on record.]

"Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, 2.5 million more young adults don't have to live with the fear and uncertainty of going without health insurance," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, in a press release announcing the increase. "Moms and dads around the country can breathe a little easier knowing their children are covered."

Data released yesterday from the first three months of 2011 showed that 1 million more young adults had health insurance coverage than had it during the same period in 2010. In all, data show the rate of insurance among young adults has increased from 64 percent in September 2010 to 73 percent at the end of June this year. The report also showed that coverage among young adults only rose among those that were directly affected by the new law.

"This comparison makes it clear that the increase in coverage among 19 to 25 year-olds can be directly attributed to the Affordable Care Act's new dependent-coverage provision," stated an Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) brief. "Furthermore, the coverage gain for young adults was entirely due to an increase in private coverage (from 49 percent to 58 percent), with no change in Medicaid coverage during this period."

The NCHS statistics are in consensus with other reports on insurance rates among young adults released earlier this year from a number of governmental agencies and private organizations.

Unfortunately, the 19 to 25 age group is about the only one that has shown an increase of those with health insurance, as the recession of 2008 and the continuing economic malaise has caused the total number of Americans without insurance to hit record numbers.

According to U.S. Census data released earlier this year, the total number of uninsured in the country rose to 49.9 million in 2010 – an increase of 900,000 from 2009, with the largest increases among the poor and older Americans aged 46 to 65.