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New Census Data Shows Nearly 4 Million More Young Adults Were Insured Last Year Than In 2009, “This Just Scratches the Surface”

September 19, 2014
Contact:  Sarah Lovenheim, sarah.lovenheim@younginvincibles.org585.746.8281 

[WASHINGTON] — New U.S. Census data released yesterday shows that the number and rate of young adults lacking health insurance has fallen significantly since the Affordable Care Act became law.  The Census estimates that 3.9 million more 18 to 34 year-olds were insured in 2013 than in 2009, excluding the vast majority of Open Enrollment sign-ups.

During that same time period, the rate of uninsured young adults has fallen, too, from 28.1 percent in 2009 to 25.2 percent in 2013.  From 2012 to 2013, for example, the number of uninsured 18 to 34 year-olds dropped by over 367,000 people.

The new Census estimates do not account for the vast majority of young people — 1.7 million of the 2.2 million — who signed up on the state health exchanges in 2014. The ACA’s first Open Enrollment period began in October 2013, but 78 percent of the total exchange enrollees signed up after January 1, 2014. “We’ve known for a long time that if you give our generation options for quality, affordable health insurance, they’re going to enroll. Uninsured young adults know that they’re just one accident or illness away from a medical or economic catastrophe. Many have told us that they were locked into jobs just for the coverage. Now that they have many more affordable options, it’s no surprise that so many young adults are signing up.” said Tom Allison, Young Invincibles’ Policy and Research Manager.“Considering that this data doesn’t even account for Open Enrollment sign-ups, we think these new numbers just scratch the surface of the positive young adult enrollment trends we expect to see,” he added.

Before Open Enrollment, the ACA implemented systemic changes to the nation’s health system that could account for more young adults getting covered, such as:

  • The provision of the ACA that allows young adults to stay on a parent’s health plan until the age of 26.
  • An end to lifetime limits on coverage.
  • Small business tax credits that provide health insurance to small business workers.
  • New coverage options for Americans with pre-existing conditions.
  • Insurance companies can no longer rescind coverage.