Young adults report better health following Affordable Care Act

According to a new survey, young adults are reporting better health since the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, which allowed them to be covered on their parents’ plans through age 26. The study, co-authored by Kao-Ping Chua, a health policy PhD student at Harvard and a pediatrician at Boston’s Children’s Hospital, and Benjamin Sommers, assistant professor of health policy and economics at Harvard School of Public Health, also found that young adults are paying less out of pocket for their medical care since passage of the health care law.

The study appeared online June 17 in JAMA.

The researchers used survey data from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to compare the experiences of young adults ages 19 to 25, who were eligible for coverage under the law, to those 26 to 34, who were not. The study covered the eight years before passage of the health law and one year after.

Insurance coverage increased markedly among the young adults, while declining slightly among the older group. At the same time, young adults’ annual out-of-pocket medical expenses declined, while those for the older group increased. The number of those in the younger group reporting that they were in excellent physical health rose from 27% to 31% after the passage of the law, while those in the older group reporting excellent physical health declined by 2%.

“The health insurance that people are gaining seems to be doing what it is supposed to do,” Chua told the Los Angeles Times.

Read study abstract: Changes in Health and Medical Spending Among Young Adults Under Health Reform

Read Los Angeles Times article: Young adults healthier after passage of Obamacare, study finds

Read Boston Globe article: Young adults allowed to stay on parents’ health plan report being in better health