Breaking it Down: The Health Law and Young Adults

Ed note: This was originally posted on healthcare.gov

The Affordable Care Act – the new health care law – gives hard-working families the security they need and important new benefits. The law holds insurance companies accountable, gets rid of the worst insurance industry practices and puts patients first. It is also expanding young adults’ affordable options for health insurance. A new study shows that 30% of young adults ages 19 to 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. Yet now, the number of young adults with health insurance continues to rise under the health care law.

Here are five ways the law helps young adults:

  1. Young adults can stay on their parent’s health insurance up to the age of 26. This is the case even if they’re married or live on their own. This provision resulted in 2.5 million young people gaining coverage. For young adults, this new protection means that they will have the freedom to make career choices based on what they want to do, not on where they can get health insurance. And for parents, it means they can breathe a little easier knowing their children are covered.
  2. The law offers free prevention benefits that keep people healthy. Now, young adults can receive recommended preventive  services, like flu shots, HIV and cancer screenings, contraceptive counseling and FDA-approved birth control, with no cost sharing. Visit  www.healthcare.gov/prevention for a full list of services and plan dates.
  3. Coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. For people who have been uninsured for six months and can’t buy private insurance because of a pre-existing condition, they may be able to join the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan. And under the new law, no plan can deny coverage to people under age 19 because of a pre-existing condition. To find out about plans available in your State, please visit http://www.pcip.gov.
  4. Insurers cannot put limits on coverage. In the past, some people with cancer or other chronic illnesses ran out of insurance coverage because their health care expenses reached a dollar limit imposed by their insurance company. Under the health care law, insurers can no longer impose lifetime dollar limits on essential health benefits and annual limits are being phased out by 2014. Also, insurance companies can no longer drop people when they get sick due to a mistake you made on your application.
  5. Starting in 2014, there will be more options through the Affordable Care Act for coverage for young adults. New Affordable Insurance Exchanges, tax credits and the improvements to Medicaid will result in at least 30 million more insured people, including as many as 10 million young adults. For young adults, lacking affordable health care will soon become a thing of the past.

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Chris Stenrud is the HHS Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs
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