At least one major Obamacare provision is only improving health in college graduates, but failing to provide any health benefits to those with less privilege, according to a new report.
A study in the National Bureau of Economic Research found “striking gains’ in healthy behaviors for college graduates who remained on their parents’ health insurance plan until age 26; but even though some adults without a college degree are taking advantage of the Obamacare requirement, it’s led to virtually no health benefits, Vox explains.
The Obama administration has used the requirement for insurers to allow adults to be claimed as dependents on a parent’s insurance plan until age 26 as a talking point for months, claiming that the health care law had provided 3 million people (a disputed number) with insurance coverage because of it — and blamed the abysmal number of young adult exchange sign-ups on the provision as well.
But those who are garnering health benefits from the rule may be those that needed it the least. Adults benefiting from the rule were more likely to have already had health insurance, unsurprisingly — parents able to keep their adult children on their health insurance plan until age 26 presumably provided health coverage through their lives. Accordingly, the study found that those who stay on their parents’ plans have fewer health needs that were previously unmet due to cost, as the previously uninsured would be.
Further health improvements, however, were more likely for those who had a college degree. In fact, there was a significant uptick in preventive health care among the college-educated — including higher numbers of “well-patient checkups,” a significant decline in obesity and “very good” or “excellent” self-reported health.
But none of the health improvements were seen for those who weren’t college graduates, indicating that while Obamacare is providing insurance, it’s only providing health care for some. The results suggest that while Obamacare’s end goal is to provide more Americans with health insurance, many people either don’t wish to use it or don’t know how to use it.
The study’s results also raise the question about out-of-pocket costs. College graduates, with higher incomes on average than their less-educated counterparts, could be more likely to pony up cash for health care services. With deductibles and co-pays rising, some young adults may not be able to afford actually using their health plans.