Study: Obamacare Allowing More Young Adults To Get CareBy Kathryn Smith Politico April 12, 2013
Millions of young adults with newfound coverage through the health care law are using it to meet a gaping need for mental health care and substance abuse treatment - and access pregnancy care, too. A new study<http://www.ebri.org/publications/ib/index.cfm?fa=ibDisp&content_id=5189> from the Employee Benefit Research Institute looks at the experience of one large national employer to get a feel for how the Affordable Care Act's rule allowing young adults to stay on their parents' plans up to age 26 is having an impact. Approximately 3.1 million young people nationwide have found coverage through this provision. In 2010 and 2011, the employer studied in the report covered more than 200,000 individuals. When the new provision went into effect in 2011, the company enrolled almost 700 young adults under age 26. "The most interesting finding related to the types of health care services used by those in the adult dependent mandate cohort," the study says. It found that 60 percent of all inpatient claims from the newly covered young adults were for mental health, substance abuse or pregnancy treatment. That's compared with just a third among a peer group of young adults who had coverage prior to the health law's implementation. And in comparison with the peer group, the new under-26 crowd had higher health care spending - and that's because they used more medical services. "Differences in hospital inpatient spending represented most of the higher average spending" in the newly covered young adults relative to their peers, the study notes. Mental health and substance abuse care amounted to 42 percent of inpatient claims in the newly covered under-26 group but just 28 percent of claims in the peer group. Inpatient claims for pregnancy care constituted 19 percent of inpatient claims in the new under-26 group but only 5 percent in the peer group. Treatment for injuries and infections were about the same in both groups. Overall, the care for the newly covered young adults proved costly: The study found they used about $2 million in health care services in 2011 - about 0.2 percent of the employer's total health spending.