The 2014 Affordable Care Act (ACA) led to gains in health insurance coverage for youth, but some of those gains have reversed since 2017, according to a new study published in the journal Academic Pediatrics from researchers at the Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health.
Using National Health Interview Survey data, the researchers found that although the overall percentage of uninsured youth decreased by almost two percent from the periods 2011-2013 to 2014-2015, in 2016-2018, the percentage of youth without coverage increased 0.3 percent to a total of 5.1 percent, or a loss of coverage for 196,000 youth and a total of 3.7 million youth without health insurance.
“Efforts in 2017 and 2018 to reduce advertising budgets, cease payments of cost sharing reductions and other efforts could have undermined the stability of insurance markets and public perceptions of insurance availability,” said lead author Dr. Alex Ortega, chair of the Department of Health Management and Policy at Dornsife. “Insurance declines could be attributed to those actions.”
Despite this reversal, the researchers see two positive metrics: diminishing racial disparities in access to care and continued growth in the number of well visits among American youth.
Even with the overall drop in coverage from 2014-2015 to 2016-2018, 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 percent of youth had a well-child visit during the previous year. From 2016-2018, that number rose to 85 percent of youth having a well visit during the past year.
The researchers note that the fully covered preventive care visits that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires appear to be increasing the number of well child visits.Friday Letter Submission, Publish on September 06