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Early Results From Connecticut Show Health Reform Is Helping Young Adults Get Coverage

Enrollment in health reform’s new marketplaces (sometimes called exchanges) began last week, and Connecticut already has reported encouraging results about young adults signing up for the coverage that will take effect on January 1.

Almost one-third of those who applied for coverage through Access Health CT, Connecticut’s state-run marketplace, in the first five days are under 35, according to Kevin Counihan, the exchange’s CEO.  (Connecticut is one of 17 states operating its own marketplace; the rest of the states are partnering with the federal government on their marketplace or having the federal government operate the marketplace for them.)

This is an early report, but it’s a promising indicator of health reform’s potential to reduce the rate of uninsurance among young adults — and address this group’s need for greater coverage options.  A recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that more than 75 percent of all young adults want and need health insurance.

Health reform has already benefitted young adults by allowing those under age 26 to obtain health insurance coverage under their parents’ policies — a feature that is providing coverage to more than 3 million young adults.

Recent Census data showed that the share of 18- to 24-year-olds without health insurance coverage fell from 25.8 percent in 2011 to 24.3 percent in 2012.  This marked the second straight year that the uninsured rate for this group has fallen, and it’s now down 5.2 percentage points since 2010.

This leaves 25- to 34-year-olds as the age group with the highest rate of uninsurance, at 27.3 percent in 2012 (see chart).  But, we expect this rate to fall considerably in 2014 as young adults continue to sign up for coverage in Connecticut — and across the country.