Youth Lose Health Insurance Coverage In Past Three Years

The national implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2014 was associated with gains in health insurance coverage for youth; but some of those gains have reversed during the past three years; according to findings publish this month in Academic Pediatrics from researchers at the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University.

Using National Health Interview Survey data; so the researchers find that although the overall percentage of uninsured youth decrease by almost two percent from the periods 2011-2013 to 2014-2015, in 2016-2018; the percentage of youth without coverage increased 0.3% to a total of 5.1%, or a loss of coverage for 196,000 youth and a total of 3.7 million youth without health insurance.

Without health insurance

“Efforts in 2017 and 2018 to reduce advertising budgets; which cease payments of cost sharing reductions; also other efforts could have undermined the stability of insurance markets; also public perceptions of insurance availability,” said lead author Alex Ortega, Ph.D. a professor of health policy and chair of Health Management and Policy. “Insurance declines be attribute to those actions.”

Despite this reversal, the researchers see two positive metrics: diminishing racial disparities; so in access to care and continue growth in the number of well visits among American youth. “There are provisions of the ACA aimed at advancing population health through improving access to and quality of health care; also implementing cost-saving measures,” said Ortega. “These include measures focus on making health care more efficient, equitable and effective.”

Essential preventive services

Despite the overall drop in coverage from 2014-2015 to 2016-2018; so the percentage of those under the age of 18 in the United States who had a well-child visit in the past year rose. From 2011-2013, 81% of youth had a well child visit during the previous year. From 2016-2018, that number rose to 85% of youth having a well visit during the past year. The researchers note that the ACA requires health insurers; so to cover preventive visits without cost to the patient; so youth can access essential preventive services; such as immunizations, regardless of insurance coverage.

Coverage of Latino youth has been lower than; it is among non-Latino white or black youth since before the ACA became law in 2010; but the disparities gap has narrow a bit in recent years coverage for Latino youth rose as it declin for white and black youth from 2016-2018. The authors speculate that information about the availability of the ACA’s insurance tax credits; also cost sharing reductions may be slowly reaching immigrant populations and limited English proficient individuals.