Tuesday, August 10, 2010

How Many More Adult Children Will Be Covered Under Health Reform?

There is reason to believe that government estimates of the dependent-child mandate underestimate the size of the population that might enroll in their parents' employment-based coverage, according to study published by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI).  In addition, according to the August 2010 EBRI Notes, the costs of the mandate are expected to increase health insurance premiums about 0.7% in 2011, 1% in 2012, and 1% in 2013, noted the study, published in the.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act provision that requires group health plans and insurers to make dependent coverage available for children until they attain age 26 will increase employment-based coverage by estimates ranging from 680,000 to 2.12 million individuals, according to regulations issued in May.

The EBRI report identifies several shortcomings in regulatory assumptions that the 2.6 million 19 to 25 year-olds in states that already allow adult children to enroll in extended coverage are unlikely to enroll under the Affordable Care Act. It is largely impossible to factor in parents' decisions when it comes to enrolling their children, EBRI noted. Contrary to regulatory assumptions, about 3 million of the 7.5 million 25-year-olds with some other form of coverage (such as Medicaid or Tricare) will be eligible to enroll in the PPACA program; and more adult children are likely to become eligible as their parents gain employment.

"It is critical that group plans and insurers understand the size and characteristics of the 19 to 25 year-old population that might be eligible for their parents' health coverage in order to determine the impact that this provision of the Affordable Care Act may have on enrollment and costs of employment-based coverage" wrote Paul Fronstin, director of the EBRI health research and education program.

When compared with the population of workers with employment-based health coverage, the uninsured population age 19 to 25 is more likely to be male, older, Hispanic, and less physically and mentally healthy, the study said. The uninsured population also was determined to be less likely than the population with employment-based health coverage to use preventive health services, to exercise, and to be of normal weight. The uninsured are more likely to smoke and more likely to have asthma.

For more information, visit http://www.ebri.org.

For a comprehensive analysis of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and additional information on health reform and other developments in employee benefits, just click here.


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