The economy warmed up a bit in 2011, from post-apocalyptic to just horrible, and that helped increase enrollment in employer-sponsored group health plans and other commercial plans, a little bit.
The Census Bureau tells the story in a big new report that includes health insurance coverage data along with poverty data.
The good health insurance stuff starts on page 65 of the paper report and on page 73 of the PDF.
The share of the 308,827 U.S. residents with some kind of health coverage increased to 84.3% in 2011, from 83.7% in 2010, but only because the share of people with government coverage increased to 32.2%, from 31.2%. Medicaid grew a little faster than Medicare.
The share of the population with individual coverage fell to 9.8%, from 9.9%, and the share with group coverage fell to 55.1%, from 55.3%.
Trends in the share of people with group health coverage varied a lot by age.
Because of the young adult dependent coverage provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) — a requirement that group health plans that offer family coverage let enrollees keep adult dependents on their coverage up to age 26 — the share of U.S. residents ages 18 to 24 who had group coverage jumped to 46.3%, from 45.7%.
But, in a number of other age groups, the share with group coverage went down. For people ages 25 to 34, for example, the share fell to 55.3%, from 55.9%.
The share went up to 64.6%, from 64%, for seasoned workers ages 35 to 44, but shares went down for older workers.
For people ages 45 to 54, the share with group coverage fell to 65.4%, from 66.4%. For people ages 55 to 64, who might be getting to the point that they really need health coverage and have some trouble buying it on the open market, the percentage with group coverage fell to 63.5%, from 64.5%.
So, on the one hand: It’s great that the young invincibles are more likely to have coverage.
On the other hand: One wonders if employers might beven less likely to want to have workers ages 45 to 64 in their plans than they were before PPACA came along, because some of those somewhat older workers might have 23-year-old dependents who need organ transplants.
On the third hand, the idea that more young invincibles have coverage does seem really nice. We have to hope that the young invincibles with the new coverage are typical young invincibles who help the group plans’ loss ratios rather than driving them through the roof.