AP: Affordable Care Act Adds 2.5 Million Young Adults To Ranks Of Insured

December 14, 2011 10:31 am ET — Kate Conway

As some of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act begin to take effect, there's been evidence filtering into the news that they're working. In September, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimated that the law's provision allowing young adults to stay on their parents' insurance up to the age of 26 had helped one million young adults gain health insurance. Now, the Associated Press reports, additional data suggests that the number of newly insured 19- to 25-year-olds is closer to 2.5 million.

Using unpublished quarterly statistics from the government's ongoing National Health Interview Survey, analysts in [HHS Secretary Kathleen] Sebelius' policy office determined that nearly 36 percent of those age 19-25 were uninsured in the third calendar quarter of 2010, before the law's provision took effect.

That translates to more than 10.5 million people.

By the second calendar quarter of 2011, the proportion of uninsured young adults had dropped to a little over 27 percent, or about 8 million people.

The difference — nearly 2.5 million getting coverage — can only be the result of the health care law, administration officials said, because the number covered by public programs like Medicaid went down slightly.

Overall, nearly 30 million Americans are between the ages of 19 to 25. For those who are little older, ages 26-35, the uninsured rate went up during the same period.

"From September 2010 to June 2011, coverage rose only among those adults affect by the policy," said the HHS report.

While other parts of the law may not yet be successful in such a dramatic way, there's evidence that health care consumers are benefiting from many of the Affordable Care Act's measures. Medicare's "doughnut hole" is shrinking, making seniors' prescription drugs more affordable. Some Americans with pre-existing conditions, previously unable to find coverage, have signed up for affordable plans via a high-risk insurance pool. The law is helping prevent insurers from enacting unreasonable rate hikes.

Meanwhile, the GOP is still bent on their mission to undermine the Affordable Care Act, even including cuts to the law in yesterday's House-passed payroll tax holiday bill.