Thanks to the popular Obamacare provision that extends health insurance coverage to millions of young adults by allowing them to stay on their parents’ insurance until 26 years of age, a new report from the Centers for Disease Control estimates the number of uninsured young people dropped by one-sixth between 2010 and 2011. This represents the largest annual decline for any age group since the CDC first began collecting data on insurance rates in 1997.
According to the National Health Interview Survey, 33.9 percent of people between the ages of 19 and 25 lacked health insurance in 2010. The following year, after the Obamacare provision had taken effect, that number dropped to 27.9 percent. By the CDC’s estimates, that means 1.6 million young people gained coverage between 2010 and 2011, and health policy analysts agree the dramatic drop in uninsured young adults during that time span was due to the health reform law:
The estimates are drawn from a federal survey of about 35,000 households. It did not ask how the newly insured obtained coverage, but the study’s author, Matthew Broaddus, a research analyst at the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said the increased coverage for young people was almost certainly due to a provision in the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act that allows children to stay on their parents’ insurance policies until their 26th birthday.
Joseph Antos, a health care policy expert at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, agreed that the provision of the new law was the only plausible explanation for the increase. He pointed out that young people have been among the hardest hit in the recession and would otherwise have been expected to be less likely to be insured. “Nothing else went well for this age group,” he said.
Mitt Romney — who has pledged to repeal Obamacare if he wins in November — said yesterday that the provision extending coverage young adults is one of the “number of things” he likes about Obama’s health reform. A long list of other Republican lawmakers have also suggested they would support keeping the provision in place.