Can Expanding Dependent Coverage to Young Adults Reduce the Number of Uninsured?

Drawing Lessons for the Affordable Care Act from State Extensions of Dependent Coverage to Young Adults

Field of Work: health insurance coverage of young adults

Problem Synopsis: Young adults ages 19–29 are less likely to have health insurance than any other age group.

Synopsis of the Work: The Rutgers Center for State Health Policy evaluated state policies that require insurers to allow young adults to enroll as dependents on their parents plan into their mid-20s and beyond. The study examined the differences in the existing state laws and regulations, analyzed implementation experiences and evaluated the impact on coverage of young adults. The project was funded through RWJF's State Health Access Reform Evaluation program.

Key Findings: Findings, published in articles and issue briefs, include:

  • State dependent coverage expansions led to a small increase in coverage of eligible young adults as dependents on their parents' health plans.
  • These increases were offset by declines in employer-sponsored insurance in the young adults' own name.
  • No significant impact on young adult uninsured rates was found.
  • The scope of state laws governing dependent coverage was much narrower than the dependent coverage provisions of the federal Affordable Care Act, which supersedes them.

Most Requested