Insurers gain 1M new customers in young adults

Young adults have become the fastest growing segment of the population to get healthcare coverage now that the reform law allows parents to cover their adult children as dependents on family policies.

The dependent coverage provision went into effect Sept. 23, 2010, and although insurers weren't required to implement the change until the start of the following plan year, dozens of insurers voluntarily adopted the change earlier, NPR reports.

Three new surveys show that adults under 26 made "significant and unique gains" in insurance coverage since last year, reports the New York Times. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates there were 900,000 fewer uninsured young adults aged 19 to 25 in the first quarter of 2011 than last year.

Meanwhile, a Gallup survey found that the share of adults 18 to 25 years old without health coverage dropped from 28 percent last fall to 24.2 percent by this summer--translating to roughly 1 million or more young adults gaining coverage, according to the Washington Post. "While we did not see a drop-off in any other age group, we did see a drop in this age group," said Frank Newport, Gallup's polling director.

A third poll from the Census Bureau found that the share of young adults without health insurance dropped last year by 2 percentage points to 27.2 percent, meaning there were 502,000 fewer uninsured young adults. Most gained coverage through private policies rather than government programs, the Times notes.

America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), however, isn't thrilled with the increase in consumers. "It's a basic principle of economics that when more benefits are added to a policy or more people are covered under that policy there are additional costs incurred," AHIP spokesperson Robert Zirkelbach told the Times. "The cost impact is even greater to the extent 'adverse selection' occurs, meaning that only people who need health care services choose to enroll in their parents' plan."

To learn more:
- read the survey results from CDC (.pdf), Gallup and the Census Bureau (.pdf)
- see the New York Times article
- check out the NPR blog post
- read the Washington Post article

Share this via Twitter

Related Articles:
Insurers start early extending children's coverage until age 26
Young adults engaged in their health but want convenience
HHS gives $35M for exchanges; Young adults staying on parents' insurance policies;
How to prepare for influx of newly insured patients