Health Reform is Working: Fewer Uninsured Under 26

Oh no, this is not going to sit well with detractors of health reform - whether they are on the Tea-publican Right or purity Left. Health reform, despite Republican elected officials throwing every monkey wrench possible into the process, insists on working and producing results. This must be very confusing for ideologues on both sides, but all of a sudden, the rate of uninsured Americans age 18 to 26 has dropped over the last year by 4 percentage points over the last year, reports Gallup, resulting in the lowest uninsurance rate among that age group since Gallup started tracking in 2008.

Gallup - rate of uninsured 18-26 down

I wonder how that happened. Ohh, yeah. Since September of last year, President Obama's health reform law has mandated that children up to age 26 may stay on their parents' plans.
Previously, 18- to 26-year-olds were the most likely of all age groups to be uninsured. Those aged 27 to 35 have now taken that place. Additionally, the percentage of uninsured in every age group -- except 18- to 26-year-olds -- has so far in 2011 increased or remained unchanged.

More 18- to 26-year-olds now say they get their healthcare coverage through "something else" other than an employer or the government. This could be the result of more young adults now being covered under their parents' plans, having a private health plan, or getting coverage through their college or university.
It is important to remember that while the requirement went into effect on September 23, 2010, insurance companies did not have to comply until their subsequent plan year starts. For most insurers, that is not until this year. 1.2 million young adults are expected to be covered by this year under this new provision of the law. Already, the LA Times reports, we're at least half way there. And given that the rate of those covered are increasing at a faster rate than estimated by the government, the final number is likely to easily exceed 1.2 million.
WellPoint, the nation's largest publicly traded health insurer with 34 million customers, said the dependent provision was responsible for adding 280,000 new members. That was about one-third of its total enrollment growth in the first three months of 2011.

Other large insurers said they have added tens of thousands of young adults. Aetna added fewer than 100,000; Kaiser Permanente, about 90,000; Highmark Inc., about 72,000; and Health Care Service Corp., about 82,000.

The U.S. Health and Human Services Department has estimated that about 1.2 million young adults would sign up for coverage in 2011. The early numbers from insurers show it could be much higher, said Aaron Smith, executive director of the Young Invincibles, a Washington-based nonprofit group that advocates for young adults.
Ladies and gentlemen, health reform is working. As its provisions are going into effect, those provisions are affecting real lives, and making real change happen. Maybe that's why support for repeal is hitting new lows even in the notoriously biased (R)asmussen poll.

For most everyone outside of the young adult age group, the reform that would increase coverage - that is, expansion of Medicaid and the exchanges, as well as yes, the individual mandate that those who can afford it must have insurance - won't kick in until 2014, hence it stands to reason that in a tough economic time, the uninsurance rates for every other age group has either remained the same or increased slightly. But the coverage parts of health reform that are becoming effective are working exactly as intended, such as the the small business tax credit for health care coverage, which has caused more small businesses are offering health insurance to their employees - to the surprise of a lot of analysts.

The overall issue of coverage is likely to remain critical until the exchanges, along with the large employer and individual mandates, become open. But as things are being implemented - such as the coverage for young adults, the high risk pools, legally barring insurance companies from capping your lifetime benefits and dropping you when you get sick, as well as no copay preventive care for new plans - are working. We are moving in the right direction with health reform, that much is not in doubt. Moreover, it seems that in some cases - this case in particular - coverage provisions are working even better than government estimated.

I know many of you know people in your families and communities who have been positively affected by health reform. We should all be proud that we fought for health reform in the face of misinformation and flat out lies and from ideological attempts to drown it at the alter of purity. Because what we accomplished - what President Obama hung tough till the end to get done - something generations and presidents have tried but failed. We made a difference - what we did is making a difference, and the best of health reform is yet to come.


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