Since September 2010 the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has required insurers to let young adults up to the age of twenty-six remain on their parents' private insurance plans. Susan Busch of Yale University and co-authors have found that this policy is associated with a statistically significant reduction in the share of young adults facing annual out-of-pocket health expenses greater than $1,500. The authors looked at the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) for the years 2007-11 for young adults ages 19-29 at the end of each survey year.

The study found that 2.9 percent of those between the ages of 19-25 faced expenses greater than $1,500 after the enactment of the provision, compared to 4.2 percent in the years before. For their slightly older peers (ages 26-29) not on their parents' plans, 5.4 percent had out-of-pocket costs greater than $1,500 after the ACA's enactment, compared to 4.4 percent before.

The authors conclude that the dependent care coverage provision in the ACA provides financial protection for young adults at a time when they often face high debt burden but low wages.

Study: ACA Dependent Coverage Provision Reduced High Out-Of-Pocket Health Care Spending For Young Adults, Susan H. Busch, Ezra Golberstein and Ellen Meara, Health Affairs, doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2014.0155, published August 2014.