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From Health Affairs:

Since 1977, Uninsurance For Young Adults Has Increased-But The ACA Has Helped

Bethesda, MD--A new study, released as a Web First by Health Affairs, examines data from twenty national surveys conducted between 1977 and 2013 to look at uninsurance and out-of-pocket spending trends for young adults (ages 18-30) in the U.S. Historically, young adults have always been more likely than older adults to lack coverage. A popular provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which took effect in late 2010, allows those up to the age of twenty-six to remain on their parents' policies. To gauge the impact of that provision, the authors compared uninsurance patterns between 2010 and 2013 for three cohorts of young adults: those ages 18-22, ages 23-26 (the group most likely to benefit from this provision), and ages 27-30. According to the study, uninsurance declined from 28.4 percent in 2010 to 24.4 percent in 2013 for those ages 23-26, which they termed a modest change.

Young Adult Insurance Coverage And Out-Of-Pocket Spending: Long-Term Patterns

By Marc L. Berk and Zhengyi Fang

Berk is a contributing editor at Health Affairs, in Bethesda, Md.; Fang is a senior systems analyst at Social and Scientific Systems, in Silver Spring, Md.

This study, part of Health Affairs’ DataWatch series, will also appear in its April issue.

The study found that uninsurance among young adults has risen: In 1977, 11.7 percent of those ages 18-30 lacked coverage, a figure which peaked in 2009, at 26.2 percent. Looking at uninsurance by race and ethnicity, 10.6 percent of young whites were uninsured in 1977, compared to 15.0 percent of blacks and 19.2 percent of Hispanics. By 2010 the differences had significantly widened, with Hispanic uninsurance at 47.6 percent compared to 17.7 percent of young whites and 26.7 percent of young blacks (see exhibit below and Study Appendix). "Our findings suggest that a consideration of long-term patterns will help distinguish the aspects of cost and insurance that have fundamentally changed from those that are subject to mere short-term fluctuations," the authors concluded.

©2016 Health Affairs

About Health Affairs

Health Affairs is the leading journal at the intersection of health, health care, and policy. Published by Project HOPE, the peer-reviewed journal appears each month in print and online, with frequent Web First studies and health policy briefs published at The full text of each Health Affairs Web First paper is available free of charge to all website visitors for a one-week period following posting, it then switches to pay-per-view for nonsubscribers. You can also find the journal on Facebook and Twitter. Read daily perspectives on Health Affairs Blog. Download our podcasts, including monthly Narrative Matters essays, on iTunes. Tap into Health Affairs content with the iPad app.

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