NPR logo Health Law A Boon To Coverage Of Young Adults

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Health Law A Boon To Coverage Of Young Adults

There's at least one group for whom the Affordable Care Act would appear to be a big success: young adults under age 26. They can now stay on their parents' health plans thanks to the law.

As many as 2.5 million young adults gained health insurance coverage between Sept. 30, 2010, when the provision took effect, and June 2011, says a study from the National Center for Health Statistics.

The latest numbers are considerably larger than those reported in September, when the Census Bureau reported a reduction in the number of uninsured younger adults, and a separate report that month, also from the NCHS.

Even so, the researchers say, the new report is in line with those earlier findings. "Today's results show that the initial gains from this policy have continued to grow as further plan renewals took effect." In many cases young adults who had already "aged out" of their parents' plan had to wait until the plan's renewal date to regain coverage.

The additional numbers also reflect young adults who graduated from high school or college this past summer and who, but for the law, would have lost their health insurance coverage because they were no longer full-time students.

Backers of the law were quick to celebrate one of the rare pieces of good news in a sea of attacks on the measure.

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"This is yet another example of how the health care law is making a huge difference in the lives of America's families," said Ethan Rome of the advocacy group Health Care for America Now. "We must stand strong to fight off the GOP's hyperpartisan attacks on health laws that are making the country a healthier, fairer place."