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Young people have benefited from health insurance law changes

Health Care Reform and Policy
by Jay Fuller
Young people key to ACA success, but desire to enroll is in question
Young people key to ACA success, but desire to enroll is in question

The Affordable Care Act is front of mind for many business owners and executives as the deadline for the coverage mandate approaches, but one provision of the law has been extremely beneficial to many young people.

Specifically, the law allows people through the age of 25 to receive coverage through their parents' plans, and as a consequence, these Americans and their families have been able to avoid some $147 million in crucial, nondiscretionary medical care that otherwise would not have been covered by insurance companies, according to a new study from the RAND Corporation. In 2011 alone, an estimated 22,000 emergency room visits involving young adults who would otherwise not have been covered without the ACA provision took place. As a consequence, health insurance rates for those in the age group rose about 3 percent nationwide. In all, some reports estimate about 3.1 million young people were able to benefit from the ACA provision.

Moreover, it's not just these young people who are benefiting from the law, the report said. Hospitals have also been able to see positive changes because they would have otherwise been treating uninsured patients, who are consequently far more likely to not be able to pay the potentially massive bills for treatment they can accrue with just one emergency room visit.

However, it should be noted that only about 6 percent of emergency room visits examined actually fell within the parameters of being nondiscretionary, the RAND Corporation noted in its report. That means they involved serious or painful injuries and illnesses that would typically prompt young people to seek emergency care regardless of their insurance status. Those between 19 and 25, who received the added protection, were compared with people aged 26 to 31, who were not. In general it was found that their savings were significant. In addition, the organization notes that it might have underestimated the savings realized by young people because it examined only extreme emergency situations.

Of course, the ACA's new provisions for covering workers go into effect early next year, and that could mean that companies see their insurance costs increase significantly. As such, owners and executives may want to closely examine their options for providing care for employees and their children while also keeping it as inexpensive as possible.



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