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Better Benefits, Better Health for Young Adults

As the one-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act continues, Mayra Alvarez from the Department of Health and Human Services talks about the key benefits youth, teens, and young adults have seen since the health reform law passed.

A year ago, young adults were one of the most vulnerable groups of Americans in the health insurance market. However, since the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, many of you can now stay on your parent’s family plan until you turn 26. It doesn’t matter whether you’re married, living with your parents, in school, or financially independent. This is a huge improvement that is freeing people to make decisions about their education, their careers, and their lives without being hemmed in by outdated insurance rules.

Before President Obama signed the health law, you typically had to go off your parent’s plan at 19 or whenever you left school. This put many young people in a tight spot, especially if they were living with a pre-existing condition like cancer, diabetes, or asthma—since it was very hard to get quality, affordable health insurance. Now, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, the class of 2011 will be the first to graduate with this new option on the books. Already, nearly 1.2 million young Americans will be able to gain insurance coverage this year as a result. This means as you start your career, you can pursue the jobs or opportunities that are best for you without worrying about health insurance.  

Check out our facebook page on this to learn more, or watch this video with step-by-step instructions on how to access this important benefit.

There are other benefits, too, that are already in place:

  • If you are in a new insurance plan, insurance companies cannot charge you a deductible or copays for recommended preventive services, like flu shots and other immunizations. Click here to find a list of preventive services that will be covered without a deductible or copays.
  • Insurance companies are prohibited from capping the dollar amount of care you can receive in a lifetime, or dropping your coverage due to a mistake on your application when you get sick.
  • Most health plans cannot deny coverage to children under age 19 because of pre-existing conditions.
  • If you have been uninsured because of a pre-existing condition, you may be eligible to join the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan. To find out about plans available in your State, please visit:

These are just a few of the new benefits and protections that Americans of all ages are enjoying across the country. I encourage you to go to to access more information about the law, including a personalized list of private insurance plans, public programs and community services that are available.

For more information, visit our Better Benefits, Better Health Initiative. You can also download the flyer.

Mayra Alvarez is the Director of Public Health Policy in the Office of Health Reform at the Department of Health and Human Services.