Skip to main content

Advanced Search

Advanced Search

Current Filters

Filter your query

Publication Types



Newsletter Article


HHS: 2.5 Million Young Adults Gain Coverage Through Health Law

By Jane Norman, CQ HealthBeat Associate Editor

December 14, 2011 -- One of the most popular elements of the health care law—a provision allowing young adults to stay on their parents' policies—has resulted in an estimated 2.5 million Americans getting insurance coverage, Health and Human Services officials said last week.

Using data from the National Center for Health Statistics, an analysis by HHS officials estimated that from September 2010 to June 2011, the percentage of adults ages 19 to 25 with health insurance rose from 64 percent to 73 percent.

The health care law (PL 111-148, PL 111-52) allows unmarried dependents to remain on their parents' policies until they are 26, effective with insurance plan renewals that began Sept. 23, 2010. Grandchildren are not included.

The provision did not attract much attention or opposition when it was added to the health care overhaul as it moved through Congress but was touted as a way to extend insurance more broadly to "young invincibles," the nickname given to young people who go without insurance.

Now that feature has turned out to be a key way for the Obama administration to sell the law. "More young adults in this country can now go on and live their lives with less worry about visiting their doctor when they get sick, or incurring catastrophic medical bills if they are in an accident," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote in a blog post on the White House website. "And for us parents, this lets us breathe a sigh of relief."

Estimates released by HHS earlier in the year had suggested that 1 million young adults had gained insurance through the first quarter of the year.

Officials said new data from the June 2011 National Health Interview Survey tracked comparisons between adults 19 to 25 and adults ages 26 to 35. Coverage among those in the slightly older group remained at about 72 percent, in comparison to the increase among those adults slightly younger.

The analysis also pointed out that the gains were entirely in private insurance coverage rather than Medicaid.

Publication Details