Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

April 12, 2014

Obama: More young adults covered

President Barack Obama touted the success of the Affordable Care Act after 7 million people enrolled in coverage on the marketplaces by the March 31 deadline.

“Despite several lost weeks out of the gate because of problems with the website, 7.1 million Americans have now signed up for private insurance plans through these marketplaces,” he said in an April 1 address from the Rose Garden. “7.1 million, that’s on top of the more than 3 million young adults who have gained insurance under this law by staying on their family’s plan.”

Since Sept. 23, 2010, young adults have been able to stay on their families’ private insurance plans until they turn 26. PolitiFact wanted to see for ourselves if 3 million people, a number we’ve seen disputed, have really benefited from that change.

The White House pointed us to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services June 2012 report for the source of Obama’s number.

Between September 2010 and December 2011, the percentage of 19- to 25-year-olds on their families’ insurance increased from 64.4 percent to 74.8 percent, according to the National Health Interview Survey. HSS then took that increase of 10.4 percentage points and multiplied it by the number of people in that age group, which, according to Census data, was 29.7 million in 2010, to arrive at nearly 3.1 million newly insured people.

Their estimate is two years old and hasn’t been updated, though they say they it will be going forward.

The administration’s calculation isn’t the only method you could use to evaluate the impact of the law’s increased coverage for young adults. Forbes opinion editor Avik Roy, a former Mitt Romney adviser and Obamacare critic, took down the 3.1 million figure and estimated that the true number is more like 930,000.

Factors that affect the estimate include:

n The starting point for counting uninsured young adults, and whether that is pre-recession

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