Report: ObamaCare Brings Affordable Coverage For Some Young Uninsured

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Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

President Barack Obama, accompanied by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, announces a revamped contraception policy on Feb. 10, 2012, in Washington

The Obama Administration released a report late Monday showing that a significant share of young, single Americans will be able to get inexpensive coverage under the law, sometimes for less than $50 a month. But the report’s conclusions only apply to subset of the uninsured young people, leaving unanswered the overall effect of the law.

The report uses data from 34 states to make the claim that “nearly 5 in 10” young, single adults could pay “$50 or less” per month for health insurance in 2014. In all, roughly 1.3 million 18- to 34-year-olds will be able to get new insurance through Obamacare insurance exchanges for $50 or less per month. Another 600,000 will be able to purchase plans between $50 and $100 a month. An additional 1 million will be able to get free coverage under Medicaid.

But the report’s authors made clear that these conclusions did not apply to all young uninsured people, a population estimated at 20 million nationwide. To compile the insurance price data, the Department of Health and Human Services drew from the 34 states that have submitted insurance plan details to the government. Many of these states have opted not to expand their Medicaid programs, which would vastly expand coverage for young adults. “We cannot at this time compare all 50 states and the District of Columbia,” wrote the report authors, Laura Skopec and Emily Gee.

The report also defines young adults as single 18- to 34-year-olds living in single-person households who may be eligible to purchase insurance through Obamacare’s new insurance exchanges. This definition excludes, for example, undocumented immigrants, many of whom are under 34, but are not eligible for insurance under the program.

“In the 34 states in this analysis, 2.9 million, or 40%, of the 7.2 million eligible uninsured single young adults may qualify for Medicaid or tax credits to purchase silver or bronze coverage for $100 or less per month,” wrote the report authors. If each of the 34 states opted to expand its Medicaid program, as President Obama originally hoped when they passed the law, 86 percent of uninsured single young adults would be eligible for coverage costing less than $100 per month after tax credits.