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Health Insurance Coverage of Young Adults Aged 19 to 25: 2008, 2009, and 2011

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Report Number ACSBR/11-11


Historically, young adults have been a group with one of the highest uninsured rates.1 Although individual states had enacted laws that allowed adult children in various circumstances to be dependents on their parents’ private family health plans, only in 2010 was there a standardized national law that allowed all adult children under the age of 26 to be covered.2 Because the change in law occurred mid-year, this report examines the coverage of young adults aged 19 to 25 in the 2 years before the change (2008 and 2009) and in the year after the change (2011). To gain a perspective on what was happening to a similar group of people, the report uses adults aged 26 to 29, who did not have access to their parents’ policies, as a comparison group.

Early estimates from the National Health Interview Survey have shown that the uninsured rate for adults aged 19 to 25 declined in the first 6 months of 2011 compared with 2010.3 In addition, because the provision targets only private health insurance plans, one would expect a similarly patterned increase in private insurance during this period.4

1 National Center for Health Statistics, Health, United States, 2008 With Special Feature on the Health of Young Adults, Hyattsville, MD, 2009.
2 Cantor, J. C., D. Belloff, A. C. Monheit, D. DeLia, and M. Koller (2012), “Expanding Dependent Coverage for Young Adults: Lessons From State Initiatives,” Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, Vol. 37(1), pages 99–128.
3 Cohen, Robin A. and Micheal E. Martinez, Health Insurance Coverage: Early Release of Estimates From the National Health Interview Survey, 2011, National Center for Health Statistics, June 2012.
4 The National Defense Authorization Act of January 2011 brought TRICARE into compliance with the other dependent provision laws.


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