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Commonwealth Fund: PPACA Helps Young Adults

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Analysts at a group that supports the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) say the law may be helping a large number of young adults get and keep high-quality health coverage.

About 14 million young adults ages 19 to 25 joined or stayed on their parents’ health plans from November 2010 to November 2011, and about 48% of those young adults may have gained access to that coverage as a result of a PPACA provision, the analysts say in a commentary released by the Commonwealth Fund, New York.

Health care system changes that expand young adults’ access to coverage are important because about 40% of adults ages 19 to 29 were uninsured for at least part of 2011, and 60% of the young adults with no coverage or intermittent coverage said they had failed to get needed care, the analysts say.

The analysts based their commentary on results from an Internet survey of 1,863 U.S. residents ages 19 to 29.

About 16% of all young adults and about 20% of those who had gone without  insurance said they had had to change their way of life to pay medical bills.

Even when the analysts looked at young adults with incomes greater than or equal to 400% of the federal poverty level, they found that 37% of those high-income young adults reported having had problems with medical bills or medical debt in the past year.

About a third of the young adults with medical bill payment problems said the bills or debts had forced them to delay education or career plans.