Young adults are more likely to get regular checkups and have primary-care doctors when they're allowed to stay on their parents' health insurance plans, according to a new study from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.
They are also less likely to put off care because of cost, the study found.
The researchers analyzed federal survey data before and after states enacted laws mandating employer-sponsored health insurance plans to allow young adults to stay on their parents' insurance plans until age 26. In the 34 states that had such laws, they found young adults had greater rates of health insurance coverage and better access to care.
Now, all employer-sponsored health insurance plans must let children through age 26 stay on their parents' plans. That rule is a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the federal health care reform law. Until the law was passed in 2010, state laws varied. In some states, health plans could prohibit children over 18 from staying on their parents' health plans.
The authors concluded their findings might underestimate the impact of federal health care reform. Unlike state laws, the Affordable Care Act applies to all health plans. State laws do not apply to employers that self-insure their health plans. Most large companies are self-insured.
"It is possible that we only identified half of the likely impact of the Affordable Care Act provision," lead author Alex Blum, an adjunct assistant professor at Mt. Sinai, said in a press statement.