December 15, 2011: The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced yesterday that the percentage of young adults age 19 to 25 with insurance coverage increased from 64% to 73% between September 2010 and June 2011, for a gain of 2.5 million young adults covered. These numbers are based on a comparison of third-quarter data from the 2010 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) and second-quarter data from the 2011 NHIS.  (More than half of the young adult coverage gain occurred in 2011: Of the estimated 2.5 million who gained coverage, 1.3 million of them became insured during the first two quarters of this year.)
HHS attributes these gains in coverage to the provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that extends eligibility for young adult coverage to dependents under 26 years old. HHS points to three facts that support this conclusion:
- Timing: The young adult provision took effect for insurance plan renewals beginning on September 23, 2010.
- Comparison Group: The new June 2011 NHIS data include the first official comparisons of trends between adults ages 19 to 25 and slightly older adults, ages 26 to 35, for whom coverage levels were unchanged (at 72%) from September 2010 to June 2011.
- Source of Coverage: The coverage gain observed among young adults was solely attributable to an increase in private coverage.
About the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS)
The NHIS is a nationally representative of the U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population. The NHIS is a comprehensive health survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics throughout the year. To learn more about the NHIS, visit SHADAC’s NHIS page, or visit the NHIS page at the National Center for Health Statistics.
Stay tuned for findings from research being led by Joel Cantor and Margaret Koller at the Rutgers University Center for State Health Policy to examine how the dependent coverage provisions of the ACA affect coverage of young adults as the provisions are phased in through 2014. Click here to link to findings from Dr. Cantor's earlier SHARE work looking at state-specific policies expanding eligibility for young adult dependent coverage.
 Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE). 2011. “2.5 Million Young Adults Gain Health Insurance Due to the Affordable Care Act.” ASPE Issue Brief. Available at http://aspe.hhs.gov/health/reports/2011/YoungAdultsACA/ib.shtml#2
 Martinez ME and Cohen RA. 2011. “Health Insurance Coverage: Early Release of Estimates from the National Health Interview Survey, January – June 2011.” National Center for Health Statistics. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhis/earlyrelease/insur201112.pdf