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Study: Nearly 14 million young Americans insured after health reforms

President Barack Obama’s package of health reforms has not yet been fully implemented, but nearly 14 million young Americans are already benefiting from it due to one change in particular that took effect immediately, according to market research published Friday.

The Affordable Care Act changed a rule regarding who can be claimed as a dependent, allowing all young adults stay on their parents’ health insurance policies until they turn 26. Prior to the Affordable Care Act, some of the more expensive policies would allow parents with greater net worth keep their kids on as dependents into their 20s, but most policies available to lower and middle income families dropped kids at either 18 or 21.

A survey published by The Commonwealth Fund on Friday found that an estimated 13.7 million young adults between the ages 19-25 have health insurance today because they’ve stayed on their parents’ policies, including 6.6 million who probably wound not have been able to do so without President Barack Obama’s reforms.

Despite the gains, the Fund found that two out of every five young Americans is still uninsured, leaving most to say they have not received needed care due to the high costs of both insurance policies and health care service. The survey also revealed that young adults from lower-income families were least likely to stay on their parents’ insurance.

However, another provision of the Affordable Care Act is helping to address health costs already: Starting last year, insurers are required to spend a fixed minimum percentage of dollars they earn from their customers on actual services rendered to the customers. That rule is expected to trigger $1.3 billion in rebates to health insurance customers by August, according to The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a health policy nonprofit.

All Americans will be required to carry a health insurance policy once the Affordable Care Act is implemented in 2014 — an idea originally proposed by Republicans, based upon health reforms passed into law in Massachusetts during Gov. Mitt Romney’s time in office. President Obama originally pushed for but ultimately failed to secure a “public option” for lower-income people who’ve been frozen out by private insurers. Under the reforms finally passed with bipartisan support, families that cannot afford insurance will be eligible for payment assistance to insure all their members, with the goal being near-universal coverage of all groups.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the law’s constitutionality sometime before then. Only 36 percent of Americans say they support the Affordable Care Act, according to a recent CBS News/New York Times poll.

This infographic was produced by The Commonwealth Fund, published Friday, June 8, 2012.


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Photo: Flickr user Images_of_Money, creative commons licensed.

Written by | Stephen C. Webster

Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.

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