President Obama Overstating Number of Young Adults Gaining Coverage

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President Barack Obama has overstated the number of previously uninsured young adults who have gained coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to an analysis by the National Center for Public Policy Research.

Obama said on Tuesday that “more than 3 million young adults … have gained insurance under this law by staying on their family’s plan.” That figure was based on a 2012 report from the Department of Health and Human Services, said David Hogberg, a senior fellow for health care policy at the center.

However, Hogberg said updated data from the National Health Interview Survey tell a different story:

The number of insured 19-25-year-olds had declined by the third quarter of 2012. Private coverage had dropped by 2.1 percent. Multiply that against the roughly 30 million 19-25-year-olds in the U.S. in 2012, and the number of young people on their parents’ policies declined by about 600,000, to 2.2 million. Apparently the slacker mandate is losing its effectiveness.

There are other reasons to be suspicious of the 3.1 million figure. For starters, it doesn’t jibe with Census Bureau numbers. The Census Bureau shows that from 2009, the year before the slacker mandate began, to 2012, the number of uninsured 18-24-year-olds declined by about 976,000. But not all of those went onto their parents’ insurance. For that age group, Medicaid enrollment grew 271,000 and employer-based coverage increased 447,000 during that same period. That would mean that those newly insured by joining their parents’ coverage were at most 258,000.

A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report in February said Obamacare would still leave 31 million people uninsured by 2024.