Uninsured young adults are more likely to delay care than their insured peers, the report found. Fifty-eight percent of uninsured young adults delayed care because of costs in 2010, compared with 34% of young adults who were insured all year.
Provisions of the federal reform law are already opening up access to this age group, according to the fund. More than 600,000 young adults have gained new coverage through five national carriers since one of the law's provisions allowing them to stay on their parents' health plan up to age 26 went into effect this past September.
Starting in 2012, college health plans must eliminate lifetime and annual spending limits, and in 2014, Medicaid expansion is expected to add a further 7.2 million uninsured young adults to its rolls, according to the fund. Also in 2014, everyone will be required to carry health insurance, and insurers won't be able to deny applicants based in pre-existing health conditions.
“This is not an easy time for young adults—they are struggling to find employment in a difficult job market, and are among the age groups hardest hit by rising healthcare costs,” said Sara Collins, Commonwealth Fund vice president and lead report author. “But the Affordable Care Act has made things better for hundreds of thousands of young people, including this year's college graduates, many of whom can remain on or join their parents' plans until they find a job that provides health insurance.”