Coverage, Use Of Preventive Services Has Spiked Among Those 19-26

The expansion of dependent coverage to young adults up to 26 years of age under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) has substantially improved the coverage of individuals between 19 and 26 years old, according to the results of a study published as a letter to the editor in the New England Journal of Medicine. According to the study, the utilization of certain preventive services has increased substantially, as well.

Methods. The researchers analyzed the use of preventive services by individuals between 19 and 25 years old in 2009, before the passage of the ACA, and by young adults in the same age group in 2011 and 2012, after the dependent coverage expansion was implemented. The data from these age groups was compared with data from adults 26 to 30 years old during the same time period. The services studied were dental checkups, measurement of blood pressure, routine health checkups, flu vaccines, and Papanicolaou (Pap) testing for women between the ages of 21 and 25 years.

Findings. After controlling the analysis for demographic factors, the researchers found that the number of dental checkups, measurement of blood pressure, and routine health checkups markedly increased for those in the 19-25 age group after the dependent coverage provision was implemented, but not for the 26-30 age group. For flu vaccines and Pap testing, the numbers did not change significantly for either age group.

The study also found that the number of individuals in the 19-25 age group with private dental insurance increased significantly, despite the fact that dental checkups are not mandated in the dependent coverage provision. Dental insurance carriers, however, have largely opted to increase the age limits for dependent coverage.

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