Up to 13.7 Million Uninsured Young Adults to Gain Coverage Under Health Reform Law

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Most of the 13.7 million currently uninsured young adults in the U.S. could gain health insurance coverage under the recently enacted health reform law, according to <a href="/publications/issue-briefs/2010/may/rite-passage-young-adults-and-affordable-care-act-2010">Rite of Passage: Young Adults and the Affordable Care Act of 2010</a>, new from The Commonwealth Fund. <br /><br />The law's provision requiring health insurers to extend dependent coverage up to age 26 will go into effect in September 2010, and could provide coverage to an estimated 1.2 million young men and women next year. Of these adults, 650,000 are uninsured and 550,000 have coverage in the individual market, but would likely switch to the more comprehensive, affordable coverage available through their parents' plans. <br /><br />According to the analysis, in 2009 76 percent of uninsured young adults went without needed care because of the cost, compared with 37 percent of insured young adults, and 60 percent of uninsured young adults had trouble paying medical bills, compared with 27 percent of young adults with coverage. <br /><br />Based on findings from a 2009 Commonwealth Fund survey, <em>Rite of Passage </em>is the Fund's latest annual accounting of how 19-to-29-year-olds are faring when it comes to health insurance coverage, medical debt, and access to health care. This year's edition also details how specific provisions of the health reform law will affect young adults. <br /><br />"The Commonwealth Fund has issued this report annually since 2003, and every year the results show increasing numbers of young adults who cannot afford the health care they need," said lead author and Fund vice president Sara Collins, Ph.D. "This new legislation will not only make coverage more affordable, but also more comprehensive and secure, allowing young adults to pursue careers and start families without having to worry about losing their health insurance or falling into medical debt." <br /><br />