Health reform shields young adults from emergency medical costs, study finds

May 29, 2013, RAND Corporation

A new federal law allowing young adults to remain on their parents' medical insurance until age 25 has shielded them, their families and hospitals from the full financial consequences of serious medical emergencies, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

Examining use during the first year after the federal Affordable Care Act provision went into effect, researchers estimate that $147 million in nondiscretionary medical care was newly covered by . Without the new regulation, those costs would have been paid by young people and their families, or been written off by hospitals as uncompensated care.

The study, published in the May 30 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, estimates that more than 22,000 nondiscretionary during 2011 involved young adults who were newly insured under the provision. The change increased health insurance rates by 3 percent among the young adults needing care in emergency departments nationwide during the period.

"The change allowing young people to remain on their parents' medical insurance is protecting young adults and their families from the significant posed by emergency medical care," said Andrew Mulcahy, the paper's lead author and a health policy researcher at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. "Hospitals are benefitting, too, because they are treating fewer uninsured young people for emergency ailments."

Under one of the first provisions of the Act to go into force, commercial beginning in September 2010 were required to allow young adults up to age 25 to retain coverage under their parents' insurance.

Previous studies have shown that the provision significantly increased the number of insured young adults. One recent report estimates that the provision is associated with an additional 3.1 million insured young adults nationally.

RAND researchers examined emergency department care for serious injuries and illnesses provided after the provision went into effect in order to examine the role that the coverage expansion has played in providing protection to young people and health care providers.

Researchers examined details about emergency medical care provided to adults aged 19 to 31 at a diverse national group of 392 hospitals from January 2008 through December 2011.

Experts examined cases to determine which ones could be considered nondiscretionary in nature. Researchers wanted to analyze only cases that involved serious or painful illnesses and injuries that are likely to prompt patients to seek care in an emergency department regardless of whether they have insurance. Only 6 percent of emergency department visits met those criteria.

The study compared insurance status among those aged 19 to 25 with people who were aged 26 to 31, who were unaffected by the new provision of the health law. This provided a means for researchers to analyze whether changes in insurance coverage among the younger group was caused by trends other than the new health law.

"Our findings show that young adults not only are more likely to have insurance coverage after the provision went into force, but they and hospitals also have improved financial protection," Mulcahy said. "Because we looked at only the most-serious emergency cases to rule out the influence of insurance on the decision to seek health care, we probably underestimate the full financial benefits that the new rules have provided to who need urgent medical care."

Explore further: After age 18, asthma care deteriorates

Related Stories

After age 18, asthma care deteriorates

April 22, 2013
It is widely accepted that medical insurance helps older adults with chronic health problems to receive better care. But what about young adults between the ages of 18 and 25, a demographic that also tends to have the lowest ...

13.7 million young adults stayed on or joined their parents' health plans in 2011

June 8, 2012
In 2011, 13.7 million young adults ages 19 to 25 stayed on or joined their parents' health plans, including 6.6 million who would likely not have been able to do so before passage of the Affordable Care Act, according to ...

Change in health insurance status linked to greater emergency department use

March 26, 2012
Recent changes in health insurance status were linked to greater emergency department use by newly insured and newly uninsured adults, according to a study published Online First by Archives of Internal Medicine. The article ...

Many adults with diabetes have no insurance coverage

July 23, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Approximately two million adults under the age of 65 years with diabetes have no health insurance, according to research published online July 11 in Diabetes Care.

Recommended for you

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Teens likely to crave junk food after watching TV ads

January 15, 2018
Teenagers who watch more than three hours of commercial TV a day are more likely to eat hundreds of extra junk food snacks, according to a report by Cancer Research UK.

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

Your dishwasher is not as sterile as you think

January 13, 2018
(HealthDay)—Your dishwasher may get those plates spotless, but it is also probably teeming with bacteria and fungus, a new study suggests.

Study reveals what sleep talkers have to say

January 12, 2018
A team of researchers with members from several institutions in France has conducted a study regarding sleep talking and has found that most sleep talking is not only negative in nature, but involves a large amount of swearing. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.