An issue brief released December 14th 2011 by the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, establishes that the Affordable Care Act of 2010 has managed to secure health insurance for 2.5 million American youths.

In the U.S, young adults have traditionally been less likely to possess health insurance and before Obama’s healthcare overhaul, most were likely to be dropped from their parents’ dependent children coverage, as soon as they turned 19 years old.

The Affordable Care Act extended the dependent children age limit from 19 years to 26 years under the ‘Young Adult Coverage’ policy that became effective on September 23, 2010. With this revised clause, children can stay on their parents’ health insurance until the age of 26 considering that the parents’ insurance policy allows dependent coverage. This extension in the age limit has purportedly resulted in 2.5 million additional youths getting insured from September 2010 to June 2011.

The collated data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) conducted from September 2010 to June 2011, revealed that while the percent of insured adults, falling in the age band 19 to 25, saw a rise from 64% to 73%, the percent figure for youths aged 26 to 35, remained stable at 72%.

The NHIS data from June 2011 is consistent with the Gallup poll findings from September 2011. Gallup poll results state that the percentage of un-insured young adults in the U.S. dropped to 24.2 % in the second quarter of 2011, compared to an earlier figure of 28% in the third quarter of 2010. The drop to 24.2% in the number of un-insured youths is the lowest figure recorded since Gallup started monitoring the healthcare reforms in 2008.

The comparative data makes it evident that the hike in the percent of insured adults in the age band of 19 to 25 can be directly attributed to ACA’s extension of the dependent children age limit. However, once these youths cross the age of 26, they will no longer be covered under their parents’ insurance scheme and will need to mandatorily possess health insurance. With the ‘Individual Mandate’ clause of PPACA in place, coupled with the recent drop in the number of employer-funded insurance, many individuals may turn to the Healthcare Insurance Exchanges to buy their health insurance.

Quite a few of these adults may be initially ill-informed about different health plans, health carriers, any applicable federal subsidies etc. but most of them are likely to be extremely comfortable working in an online world.  We believe that these internet-savvy youth will benefit most from the establishment of web-based Public & Private Exchanges as they can independently search, compare and buy insurance coverage online.

Time is a precious commodity and online users tend to get impatient if a system takes more than a few seconds to get up and running. All Public or Private Exchange solutions that the U.S. states or private health carriers employ need to have a lightning fast, user-friendly interface.  Features like checking for the plan eligibility, searching for the best plan and enrolling for a plan needs to be a seamless process with minimum infrastructure related hiccups.

hCentive has been at the forefront of this movement and is working hard to deliver solutions that can make the health plans enrollment process, a smooth ride for customers. We truly believe that an appealing online marketplace will result in significant business gains for health plans and in the adoption of exchanges, whether they are private or public.

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