Million young adults get health coverage under law

Associated Press | 9/27/2011, 11:29 p.m.

“The big change started in the last quarter of 2010 and continued further in the first two quarters of this year,” said Newport. “Bingo, it started going down,” he said of the percentage of uninsured young adults.

Those young Americans are still more likely to be uninsured than any other age group.

Some are making the switch from school to work. Others are in low-wage jobs that don’t usually offer coverage. And some in this group —sometimes termed the “invincibles” — pass up workplace health insurance because they don’t think they’ll use it and would rather get a little extra in their paychecks.

The latest surveys are in line with other findings. Mercer, the benefits consulting firm, found a 2 percentage-point increase in workplace health plan enrollment as a result of extending coverage to young adults.

It’s a less expensive group to cover than middle-aged or older adults, and many companies have spread the extra premiums among their workers. Delloite LLP, another major benefits consultant, projects additional costs for covering young adults in the range of 1-2 percent.

Other early coverage expansions in the health care law have not worked as well, including a special program for people with health problems turned away by insurers.

The law’s main push to cover the uninsured isn’t scheduled until 2014. At that time, more than 30 million people are expected to get coverage through a combination of expanding Medicaid and providing tax credits to make private insurance more affordable. And insurers will no longer be able to turn away people in poor health.

Gallup continuously surveys nearly 1,000 people a day. Its analysis includes 89,857 respondents interviewed between April 1 and June 30. The margin of error for the full sample is plus or minus 1 percentage point; it is higher for subgroups.

The government’s National Health Interview Survey is one of the primary sources of information on the U.S. public, relying on detailed household interviews. The latest results are drawn from interviews with more than 20,000 people from January through March. The report also found an uptick in public coverage for young adults, but officials said that increase was not statistically significant.

Associated Press writer Mike Stobbe in Atlanta contributed to this report.