As a result of a popular provision of the Affordable Care Act that allows people to stay on their parent's health care plans until age 26, the number of uninsured adults in the U.S. dropped by about 1.6 million in 2011, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The number represents the largest drop in uninsured young adults in a single year since the CDC began tracking insurance rates in 1997, The New York Times reported on Monday. According to the data from the federal study, known as the National Health Interview Survey, the share of people between the ages of 19 and 25 who lack health coverage fell to 27.9 percent last year, down from 33.9 percent in 2010, before the health care law took effect. That means the number of uninsured young adults in the U.S. fell by about one-sixth between 2010 and 2011, according to the CDC estimates.
But for the next age group -- those 26 to 35 years old -- the number of uninsured persons actually inched up, leading some experts to conclude the health care law must be driving the downward trend for young adults. That provision of the law took effect in September 2010, a year when the number of young people without health coverage also dropped.
Approximately 46 million people did not have health coverage in 2011, a share totaling about 15.1 percent of the nation. That's the lowest figure of uninsured Americans since 2007, before the recession, when 14.5 percent of the population lacked health insurance.
Before that dependents provision went into effect, young adults were usually kicked off their parents insurance plans at ages 18 or 21. That aspect of the Obama administration's health care overhaul has consistently been rated as one of the most popular aspects of the law.
Beginning in 2014, adults whose employers do not offer health coverage will be able to purchase a plan directly from a state insurance exchange, a marketplace that will offer a variety of policies that meet certain benefit and cost standards.
On Wednesday the U.S. Census Bureau will release its annual report detailing changes in health coverage for the nation. The report, which will include information from about 100,000 households, will likely provide a more accurate picture of insurance coverage than the CDC report, which only surveyed about 35,000 households.