Affordable, quality health care. For everyone.

Realizing Health Reform's Potential: How the Affordable Care Act Is Helping Young Adults Stay Covered

The Affordable Care Act is making a difference for young adults, among the groups most at risk for lacking health insurance in the United States. Young adults up to age 26 may now stay on or join their parent’s health plans if they include dependent coverage, and early reports indicate that at least 600,000 have done so. Starting in 2014, of the 14.8 million uninsured adults ages 19 to 29, an estimated 12.1 million could gain subsidized coverage once all the law’s provisions go into effect: 7.2 million may gain coverage under Medicaid and 4.9 million may gain subsidized private coverage through state insurance exchanges. New findings from the 2010 Commonwealth Fund Biennial Health Insurance Survey indicate the need for these reforms: 45 percent of young adults reported delaying needed care because of costs in 2010, up from 32 percent in 2001, and 39 percent reported problems paying medical bills.

Publication Details

Publication Date: May 26, 2011

S. R. Collins, T. Garber, and R. Robertson, Realizing Health Reform’s Potential: How the Affordable Care Act Is Helping Young Adults Stay Covered, The Commonwealth Fund, May 2011.


Sara Collins
Vice President, Health Care Coverage and Access, The Commonwealth Fund
Senior Analyst, Manatt Health Solutions
Fellow in Health Policy, The King's Fund