Affordable Care Act Helps 900,000 Get Health Coverage in the South

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The National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a study Wednesday showing that the Affordable Care Act continues to significantly increase the number of young adults who have health insurance.

Because of the health care law, young adults can stay on their parents’ insurance plans through age 26. This policy took effect in September 2010. Data from the National Health Interview Survey shows that since September 2010, the percentage of adults aged 19-25 covered by a private health insurance plan increased significantly, with approximately 2.5 million more young adults with insurance coverage compared to the number of young adults who would have been insured without the law.

In Southern states, including Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Texas, this means about 900,000 more young adults are covered by health insurance because of the law.

“Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, 2.5 million more young adults don’t have to live with the fear and uncertainty of going without health insurance,” said Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Moms and dads around the country can breathe a little easier knowing their children are covered.”

Data from the first three months of 2011 showed that one million more young adults had insurance coverage compared to a year ago. The numbers show a continuation of the coverage gains due to the health care law as students graduate from high school and college in May and June and otherwise would have lost coverage.

The data are consistent with estimates from surveys released earlier in the year. Those surveys have shown an increase in the number and percentage of young adults 19 to 25 with health insurance coverage. Specifically, the Census Bureau and the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index Survey, as well as the NHIS release of data through March 2011, reported similar trends through early 2011.

The results show that the initial gains from the health care law have continued to grow.

“The data announced today show that, because of the health care law, there is a continued and consistent pattern of improved health coverage among young adults,” said Sherry Glied, Ph.D., HHS assistant secretary for planning and evaluation. “The Affordable Care Act has helped literally millions of young adults get the health insurance they need so they can begin their careers with the peace of mind that they’re covered.”

Reacting to the news, Health Care for America Now said this is yet another example of how the health care law is making a huge difference in the lives of America’s families.

“Just last week we learned that the law has already saved 2.7 million seniors $1.5 billion on their prescription drugs and delivered preventive medical services to 24 million Medicare enrollees at no out-of-pocket cost to them,” Executive Director Ethan Rome said. “That’s why it’s just plain wrong that the Republicans, their corporate sponsors and other right-wing extremists are trying to take away these benefits and rights.”

This is a fight about core values, about whether we want a country where people are left to fend for themselves or one where they can count on Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act to provide health security and peace of mind to working families, he said. “We must stand strong to fight off the GOP’s hyper-partisan attacks on health laws that are making the country a healthier, fairer place.”

© 2011, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.

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