The survey also found that as a result of a provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act allowing young people to stay on their parents' health plan until they turn 26, the percentage of those between 19 and 25 who were uninsured declined 7 percentage points to 41%. The study's author, Commonwealth Vice President Sara Collins, said this reversed a nearly decade-long trend.
Despite those results, Collins found that many Americans are still struggling to afford health coverage and are facing medical debt. She found that last year, 80 million people didn't go to a physician when they felt ill or failed to get a prescription filled due to cost. And the same year, 75 million working-age adults had trouble paying their medical bills or were paying over time, an increase from 58 million in 2005.
“The costs of healthcare and health coverage in the United States have been on an unsustainable trajectory, straining family and government budgets,” Commonwealth Fund President Dr. David Blumenthal said in a prepared statement. “It is important that lawmakers and regulators across the country take the steps necessary to ensure that all Americans can benefit fully from the law's improvements to the quality, efficiency, and affordability of our healthcare system.”
A recent Society of Actuaries report found that health insurance claims costs are expected to rise dramatically in many states, which would lead to an increase in premiums. And earlier this week, Maryland's largest insurer said it would seek an average 25% rate increase for its individual plans in 2014.
Responding to a reporter's question on the affordability of health plans in the future, Collins said during a media call Thursday that there has been a significant decline over the past few years in the number of insurers seeking premium rate hikes about 10%. She added that more than 90% of young adults would qualify for some kind of subsidy through exchanges.
Many stakeholders have expressed concern that a requirement in the reform law that dictates an older, sicker individual can be charged no more than three times that of a young individual in the same plan will make coverage prohibitively expensive, leading many young people to pay a noncoverage penalty. Collins said she doesn't anticipate that happening, because, after Massachusetts enacted its health reform law, the number of young adults without insurance went down.
Follow Jonathan Block on Twitter: @MHjblock