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Many Young Adults Use Parents’ Insurance to Treat Substance Abuse, Mental Illness


Young adults who receive health insurance through their parents’ plans because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are more likely to use the coverage to treat substance abuse, mental illness or pregnancy, compared with their peers who already had coverage, a new report finds.

These three conditions accounted for 60 percent of hospital claims for young adults who were enrolled in their parents’ health plans in 2011, as a result of ACA, according to The Hill. The findings come from a study by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI).

In contrast, substance abuse, mental illness and pregnancy accounted for about one-third of claims in a group of young people who were already enrolled in their parents’ plan before healthcare reform took effect. Under ACA, health plans that provide dependent coverage must let young adults remain on their parents’ plan until they are 26.

As a result of the law, 3.1 million young adults have gained coverage, EBRI estimates. The uninsured rate among young people ages 19 to 25 has fallen significantly over the past several years.

The EBRI study found young people enrolled in their parents’ plan after 2011, when the provision took effect, spent an average of 15 percent more on healthcare, compared with their peers who were already on their parents’ plan.

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