In just over 15 months, 3.1 million young adults between 19 and 26 years took advantage of the Affordable Care Act provision to receive health insurance coverage under their parents' plans, according to results of a federal survey released Tuesday.
In 25 years of being a health policy analyst, "I have not seen anything like the response that we've seen from this provision," Richard Kronick, deputy assistant secretary for health policy for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said in a news briefing Tuesday.
"The fraction of 19 to 25 year-olds with insurance has increased by 10 percentage points in a very short period of time, between September, 2010 and the end of 2011," compared to what it was before the provision took effect on Sept. 23, 2010.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the provision now allows "mothers and fathers to breathe a little easier" with no worries about who would pay the bill if their child was seriously injured or became ill.
"In the past, many young adults just starting their careers, or still studying, struggled to find affordable coverage. That led some to take jobs they otherwise wouldn't have just because they offered health insurance. And others simply went without coverage, living just one accident or illness away from a lifetime of medical bills and debt," she said.
The report, issued by the National Center for Health Statistics from the National Health Interview Survey, found that in before this provision of the ACA took effect, 64% of young adults in this age group had health coverage. By the end of 2011, 74.8% were covered, largely because of a boost in the number of individuals covered by private insurance plans.
"Gains in coverage were particularly large for young men, whose rate of coverage increased from 57.9% to 72% during this time period," the report said. "Before this policy took effect, young men ages 19-25 had the highest rates of being without insurance of any particular gender-age group combination."