About 3.1 million young adults have obtained health insurance because of a provision in the federal health reform law that allows them to stay on their parents' coverage up to age 26, according to a report released Tuesday by HHS, the Washington Times reports (Winfield Cunningham, Washington Times, 6/19).
The report found that 75% of U.S. residents ages 19 to 25 are insured, compared with 64% before the provision took effect (Baker, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 6/19). A previous HHS report, released in December 2011, found that 2.5 million young adults had obtained coverage under the provision (Sanger-Katz, National Journal, 6/19).
Administration Promotes Overhaul Ahead of SCOTUS Ruling, GOP Counters
HHS highlighted the findings ahead of the Supreme Court's decision on the constitutionality of the health reform law, which is expected to be released this month ("Healthwatch," The Hill, 6/19).
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the provision gives young adults "additional freedoms," noting that before the overhaul many young adults took jobs solely for the security of having health coverage. She said the health reform law gives "young adults and their families peace of mind" (Jan, "Political Intelligence," Boston Globe, 6/19).
House Republicans countered that the findings indicate that young adults are having difficulty finding jobs. Republican staffers on the House Ways and Means Committee said, "What the administration is unlikely to reveal is the reason so many young adults are finding it necessary to stay on their parents' plans in the first place -- the failed economic policies of the Obama administration" (Washington Times, 6/19).
Provision Divides GOP, Debate Might Be 'Moot'
The provision is one of the most popular aspects of the law and has led to disagreements among the GOP about whether it should be maintained if the court rejects the entire law. Some critics of the provision say it increases the cost of coverage and discourages young adults from obtaining their own health insurance.
According to National Journal, insurers' recent announcements might have made that debate "moot" (National Journal, 6/19). Health insurers Aetna, Humana and UnitedHealth Group announced last week that they will extend the coverage to young adults regardless of the court's ruling (Washington Times, 6/19).
Administration Insists Overhaul is Necessary
Despite the recent announcements by insurers, administration officials said the provision is necessary to ensure that coverage is available to young adults.
Richard Kronick, deputy assistant HHS secretary for health policy, said the "3.1 million young adults with coverage now have valuable coverage with key protections, and only a law can guarantee those protections" (Washington Times, 6/19).