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News from EPI New Census Numbers Show: Health Reform Is Playing A Key Role In Preventing A Decline in Workplace Coverage For Young Adults

This morning’s release by the U.S. Census Bureau shows that the number of Americans under age 65 without health insurance fell from 47.9 million in 2011 to 47.3 million in 2012. When including those 65 and older, the number of uninsured Americans fell from 48.6 million to 48.0 million over this period. In her analysis, Elise Gould explains that this is the first time the rate of employer-sponsored health insurance, the predominant form of coverage for most Americans, has not fallen. However, this slight reprieve comes on the heels of many years of eroding coverage. In total, employment-based coverage fell 10.8 percentage points from 2000 to 2012.

Government policies— provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and programs like Medicaid/CHIP—yet again offered the brightest spots in the report, as they continued to provide a crucial safety net for millions of Americans. “Children’s public coverage, primarily through Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program, continued to increase unabated in 2012, increasing a total of 15.0 percentage points since 2000. Ultimately, public coverage is the reason 1.2 million more children were insured in 2012 than in 2000,” said Gould.

Likewise, health reform played a key role in preventing a decline in workplace coverage for young adults. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act includes provisions that allow young adults up to age 26 to secure health insurance coverage through their parents’ employer-sponsored health insurance policies.

“Looking closely at changes in employer-sponsored insurance since the young adult provision took effect in mid-2010, it is clear that young adults are benefiting. The share of young adults with employer-sponsored health insurance has increased 0.5 percentage points from 2009 to 2012, far more than for any other age group, and far more than would be expected given their employment outcomes,” said Gould.