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Health Reform Law Could Extend Coverage to 13.7 Million Uninsured Young Adults

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 new report from The Commonwealth Fund. The law's provision requiring health insurers to extend dependent coverage up to age 26 for young adults on their parents' plans will go into effect in September 2010, and could provide coverage to an estimated 1.2 million young adults next year, of whom 650,000 are uninsured and 550,000 have coverage in the individual market and would likely switch to more comprehensive, affordable coverage through their parents' plans. In 2014, expanding Medicaid eligibility could provide health insurance for up to 7.1 million uninsured young adults, and insurance exchanges and premium subsidies for lower- and moderate-income families could provide coverage for more than 6 million uninsured young adults.

"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 and end up skipping needed care or struggling with medical debt," said Sara Collins, lead author and Commonwealth Fund Vice President for Affordable Health Insurance. "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."

You can view a video or listen to a podcast from a May 24 Alliance for Health Reform/Commonwealth Fund briefing on health reform and young adults.

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