How minorities are benefiting from new health insurance rules

Ernie Shannon's picture
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Recent surveys by the federal government show nearly 1.3 million minority young adults are keeping health insurance coverage today by staying on their parents’ plans up to age 26.

The new data comes from the Department of Health and Human Services in concert with a research letter appearing in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association. Both sources claim that 736,000 Latinos, 410,000 Blacks, 97,000 Asian Americans, and 29,000 American Indian/Alaskan Natives have insurance by virtue of the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that children remain covered by their parents’ insurance, if needed, until the age of 26.

“As a result of the Affordable Care Act, we are making strides in giving every American regardless of race or ethnicity a fair shot at quality, affordable health coverage,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “Because of the law, more and more young adults can breathe a little easier knowing they have health coverage.”

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While this is good news for more than a million young people, the data also highlights the fact that a great many minority young people remain unable to find employment either with firms that provide health care insurance or are simply unable to work at all. Unemployment continues to be stubbornly high among these demographics.

Another aspect of the Health and Human Services release is that it focuses on minorities only. The Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that at least another 1.2 million young people, presumably white, have also benefited from the expanded health care coverage meaning that more than 2.5 million people are now covered with health insurance who would not normally have been. The Journal letter said the numbers represent an 8.3 increase in health insurance coverage for young adults between the passage of the Affordable Care Act in March 2010 and when the figures were reviewed at the end of last year.

The Health and Human Services report assumes a proportional reduction in the number of uninsured young adults in each racial and ethnic group. This means, the report says, the absolute gain in coverage will be higher among those groups with a higher baseline rate of uninsurance. This approach is consistent with the findings of the Journal article in which minorities with higher rates of uninsurance experienced the largest gains in coverage.

Although the Affordable Care Act is scheduled for full implementation in 2014, many provisions, such as keeping children on their parents’ health insurance plans, are already operational.

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