Are More Young People Insured Today Because of Obamacare?

Experts believe that the Affordable Care Act has helped.

Posted: 09/19/2012 10:59 AM EDT
Are More Young People Insured Today Because of Obamacare?

Got insurance?

Well, according to a recent study conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, more young people had health insurance in 2011 than they did in 2010. This is great news for African-Americans, given that we are disproportionately uninsured and disproportionately suffer from poor health.

According to NBC.com, the report found that between the years 2010-2011, 500,000 more young people have health coverage. And while the data for this study doesn’t specifically know what exactly caused this increase in coverage, the New York Times and other news outlets have reported that both liberal and conservative health advocates credit this spike to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Prior to the ACA, young adults were dropped from their parents’ insurance at age 18 or 21, but the ACA has extended that age to 26:

The estimates are drawn from a federal survey of about 35,000 households. It did not ask how the newly insured obtained coverage, but the study’s author, Matthew Broaddus, a research analyst at the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said the increased coverage for young people was almost certainly due to a provision in the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act that allows children to stay on their parents’ insurance policies until their 26th birthday.

Joseph Antos, a health care policy expert at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, agreed that the provision of the new law was the only plausible explanation for the increase. He pointed out that young people have been among the hardest hit in the recession and would otherwise have been expected to be less likely to be insured. “Nothing else went well for this age group,” he said.

The study also found that:

—  The rate of being uninsured decreased between 2010 and 2011 for whites and Blacks, but not for Latinos.

—  People without insurance dropped from 50 million in 2010 to 48.6 million in 2011. Even better: The rate of uninsured young people reduced by one-sixth between the years 2010-2011. That’s the largest reduction since 1997.

— About a million more people got coverage under Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and military health care.

— While people stopped losing health insurance because they lost their jobs, the report found that more people were working full-time in 2011, compared to 2010.

— The uninsured rate for children in poverty (13.8 percent) was higher than the rate for all children (9.4 percent)

Health insurance is very important and the lack of access to it plays a role in the stark racial health disparities in this country.

 According to the White House:

— Twenty-one percent of African-Americans were uninsured in 2009, and 20 percent of all African-Americans did not have a regular doctor, compared to 16 percent of whites.

— African-Americans are more likely to develop and die of cancer than any other racial or ethnic group.

— African-Americans were diagnosed with AIDS at nine times the rate of whites.

— African-Americans are more likely to use the ER as a regular place of care compared to whites.

— African-Americans are more likely than both their white and Latino counterparts to report delaying or forgoing dental care and prescription drugs.

Learn more about the Affordable Care Act and what it means to you here.

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(Photo: Janis Christie / Getty Images)

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