The CDC issued a report last week on health insurance status in the United States.
Given the stalled economy and the era-defining unemployment rate, you might not be surprised that there’s an overall increase in the number of uninsured Americans. After all, most of the coverage benefits of the 2010 health care reform act (PPACA) don’t go into effect until 2013.
But for one group, kids ages 19-26, there’s been a major increase in coverage. This is due to a provision in the law that allows kids to stay on their parents’ plans through age 26 [*clarification: until their 27th birthday], regardless of their career status (still in school? entered the workforce?) or their location (they aren’t required to be living at home or even in the same city!).
There were about a million more insured young folk in the first three months of this year compared to the same period a year earlier, according to the research. This exceeds the government’s own projections. Apparently, young people (O.K., their worried but smart parents) know a good deal when they see one.
I looked around for some criticism of this aspect of the health care reform law, but wasn’t able to find any. I wonder if that’s because it’s generally acknowledged that this age group is generally healthy (err, excepting some poor personal health choices on occasion) and seldom requires expensive items like hospitalizations, long term care, or costly medicines for chronic disease.
Health insurers must comply with this provision of the reform law, but they get to look magnanimous since it doesn’t cost them very much to provide the added coverage.
Proponents of national health insurance often speak of expanding Medicare (the government health insurance program for the elderly and disabled) to the vast middle of the population, those between the ages of 19-64. Well, starting at the easy end seems to be working. It’s what to do about that older end of the spectrum that gets challenging.
Anecdote alert: Young people, e.g. recent college grads, are starting to make their way in the world. I have a sister, herself a recent college graduate, who moved to a big city to pursue a job in business. By report of her and her peers, it seems companies are interested in hiring entry level kids in only in temporary positions–the better to avoid taking them on as full time employees with benefits. Some will eventually be hired, others may not work out. But in either case, these kids (assuming their parents still have health coverage) can safely remain on their parents’ policies.
Peace of mind for them and their folks.
*clarification added in third paragraph regarding duration of coverage.