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Report: Affordable Care Act Helped Insure Students

July 9, 2020
 
 

The Affordable Care Act contributed significantly to increasing the number of college students with health insurance, according to a new report.

The Century Foundation and Young Invincibles analyzed the impact of the ACA on college students using U.S. Census Bureau data. The ACA included protections against discrimination due to pre-existing conditions and gender, required individual and small group insurance plans to cover preventive care and mental health services, and provided financial assistance for some people to buy plans. It also gave states the power to expand Medicaid for the lowest-income individuals.

The dependent coverage expansion, which required health plans to offer coverage to children of enrollees up to the age of 26, had a considerable impact on college students, the report found. But it also points out that many students today are older and thus were helped through other provisions of the plan. The report found that the Medicaid expansion provision was probably the largest driver of increases in insurance coverage for college students.

For most students, health insurance coverage increased by 10 percentage points from 2010 to 2018, according to the report. This cut the national uninsurance rate for students in half. The share of students enrolled in Medicaid also increased, by five percentage points, after the ACA was passed.

Employer coverage for students increased by four percentage points, which the report states is likely due to the dependent coverage provision in the law.

Students of color felt even more of the impacts of the ACA. Since it passed, the racial coverage gap for students has decreased. The gaps for Hispanic and Black students compared to white students was cut in half, the report found.

The report also recommends that states that have yet to expand Medicaid do so now, as Medicaid played a large role in increasing coverage for students.

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