Why the Affordable Care Act Is Critical for Young Adults

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), young adults, ages 18-24, have seen some of the greatest gains in health care coverage. In 2009, before the ACA, almost one-third of young adults were uninsured, more than double the rate for Americans overall. Today, that rate has been cut in half to just under 15 percent. However, young adults earning higher wages or from higher-income families have had the greatest gains in coverage. Coverage gaps still exist for lower-income young adults, particularly in states that have not taken up the option to expand Medicaid to those earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL).

This brief explores why coverage is so critical for young adults, the key provisions of the ACA that help young adults get coverage, and how public policy can increase rates of insurance.