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Survey: Self-Reported Health of Young Adults Has Improved

Findings of a large survey indicate that since 2010, when young adults could be covered under their parents’ health insurance plans until age 26, self-reported health among this group has improved, along with a decrease in out-of-pocket health care expenditures, according to a study in an issue of JAMA.

Beginning September 23, 2010, the Affordable Care Act allowed young adults to be covered under their parents' plans until the age of 26. This dependent coverage provision increased insurance coverage and access among young adults. However, little is known about the association between implementation of the provision and medical spending, health care use, and overall health, according to background information in the article.

Kao-Ping Chua, MD, of Harvard University, and Benjamin D. Sommers, MD, PhD, of the Harvard School of Public Health, studied adults ages 19 to 34 who were included in the 2002-2011 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, an annual survey conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. The study sample consisted of 26,453 individuals in the intervention group (adults ages 19 to 25) and 34,052 individuals in the control group (adults ages 26 to 34). Overall, the sample was 47% male and 74% white.

The authors reported that the dependent coverage provision was associated with a 7.2% increase in insurance coverage among adults ages 19 to 25; no statistically significant changes in health care use; an increase of 6.2% in the probability of reporting excellent physical health; and an increase of 4% in the probability of reporting excellent mental health.

The researchers also found that compared with the control group, implementation of the dependent coverage provision was associated with a decrease of 3.7% in out-of-pocket expenditures among adults ages 19 to 25 with any expenditures. Annual out-of-pocket expenditures declined by approximately 18% in the group with ages 19 to 25, relative to adults aged 26 to 34.

Results were similar after controlling for household income, education, and employment. 

— Source: Journal of the American Medical Association