Health and government officials applauded the increase in young Americans with health insurance since the Affordable Care Act’s passage during a conference call this week.
New statistics indicated that roughly 1 million more young people are insured since a provision under the act allowing young people to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until 26 took effect.
“This doesn’t just give young adults and their families peace of mind, it also gives them freedom,” said Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. “It means that as they begin their careers they will be able to make career choices based on what they want to do, not on where they can get health insurance.”
The Centers for Disease Control released new data, collected from the National Health Interview Survey [PDF], showing that from January to March 2011, the percentage of young uninsured adults between the ages of 19 to 25 decreased from 33.9 percent, roughly 10 million young adults, to 30.4 percent, about 9 million young adults. Researchers say the numbers can be attributed almost entirely to the new health care law which President Obama signed in 2010.
The new data is consistent with numbers released recently from the Census Bureau [PDF] as well as a new Gallup survey, and they confirm that the Affordable Care Act is helping insure the demographic most likely to sacrifice health insurance amid the ever-present economic recession. In fact, young people are almost twice as likely to go without insurance as older Americans.
But the new law continues to take a beating from some elected officials.
“It’s security that has been vital for working and middle class families, so it’s very disappointing to hear some people in Congress talk about repealing the law and taking away this security,” Sebelius said.
For Steve Waslo, the Affordable Care Act covered his 21-year-old sister Laura Waslo at just the right time—as she developed a rare nerve condition in November 2009.
“On Christmas day my dad brought her to Mass General Hospital where she stayed for about a month the first time,” Waslo said during the press call. “While in the hospital, she said the pain only got worse. My sister described it as feeling like her toe-nails were being ripped out of her feet. No drug treatment the doctors prescribed would work … The doctors said that if the nerve damage spread to the core it would start to shut down her organs.”
Laura Waslo had to be put on a rare treatment prescribed by a specialist for her condition that required a series of injections of antibodies made up from several thousand separate blood donations. Each shot would cost $50,000, and she needed the treatments for the next year-and-a-half.
Officials tout the changed under the new health care law as helping keep one million young Americans like Laura Waslo from losing vital health insurance.