Kids, young adults see better health care through PPACA

Experts at the Department of Health and Human Services and Georgetown University say young adults and children are getting better access to health insurance and preventive care through the Affordable Care Act.

Health reform not only provides more coverage to young adults, but ensures they have coverage longer, HHS said in a new report released Wednesday.

Previously, the HHS said 2.5 million more young people were insured in June 2011 than were insured in September 2010 because of the provision of health reform that allowed people up to age 26 to stay on their parents’ plan.

Prior to the law, the data show, young people were more than twice as likely to lose their insurance over time than older adults. And, the report says, about three in 10 Americans aged 19-25 who initially had private health insurance in 2008 were uninsured for at least one month over the next two years.

Young adults were particularly at risk of losing coverage because they may have aged out of their parents’ coverage, moved between school and employment, or changed jobs.

The analysis from the HHS also showed that insurance loss was most common among young adults with lower incomes. The average young adult who lost private insurance had a family income of 230 percent of the federal poverty level, compared to an average of 360 percent for those who did not lose coverage. This leaves them particularly vulnerable to not being able to pay the bills for an accident or illness.

Researchers from Georgetown University agree that the PPACA is making a difference. They say health reform has also resulted in more than half of America’s children to gain or maintain access to preventive care services. Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families released a fact sheet provides an analysis of how many children have been helped in each state.

“Preventive care keeps children healthy and more likely to avoid expensive trips to the ER for treatable conditions like asthma,” says Georgetown University Center for Children and Families Co-Director Joan Alker. “The Affordable Care Act is already helping millions of children and their families through better access to cost-effective preventive health care coverage.”

The PPACA builds on the success of Medicaid and CHIP by removing cost and coverage barriers that could deter families from taking full advantage of preventive care services in private insurance plans, the Georgetown report says.

The states with the largest proportion of children receiving preventive services either through private plans or Medicaid/CHIP include the District of Columbia (72.6 percent), Vermont (65 percent), Louisiana (64.8 percent), Arkansas (64.3 percent), and Mississippi (64 percent). California, Texas, New York, Florida and Illinois have the largest numbers of children keeping or gaining access to preventive care.

The research comes just days before Obama's PPACA turns two. Next week, the Supreme Court will begin to hear oral arguments over reform's constitutionality, in which Americans have mostly remained divided.

[See "Most expect court to rule against individual mandate"]

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