The new study, led by Dr. Kao-Ping Chua, a pediatrician at Boston’s Children’s Hospital and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, finds an increase in the number of people who report they are in excellent physical and mental health and that this group has spent less out-of-pocket for health care. Using survey data from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, they compared cohorts of young adults, ages 19 to 25—the group eligible for coverage under the law—and 26 to 34, who were not, and they looked at data for the eight years previous to the law as well as the four years since its implementation.
Insurance coverage increased markedly among the young adults, while declining slightly among the older group.What's interesting here is that the research didn't show a marked increase in healthcare usage by the 19-25 group, their "use of primary care remained constant, while it declined among the older group in 2011." Part of what could be at work here is something that showed up in the Oregon Medicaid study: having insurance gives a sense of security and better health and lowers depression levels. Just having that coverage makes a difference, even if it's not used that much.
At the same time, young adults’ annual out-of-pocket medical expenses, including copays and deductibles, declined from an average of $546.11 in the period before the health law to $490 in 2011.
By contrast, annual out-of-pocket medical costs for the older group increased from an average of $626.66 to $644.82.
Younger adults also reported feeling better, with nearly 31% reporting themselves in excellent physical health after passage of the law, compared to nearly 27% giving that rating before.
The older group experienced a decline in self-reported health, with 21% reporting excellent physical health after passage of the law, compared 23% before.
There's one more data point in the very good Obamacare news we've been seeing since it hit the remarkable benchmark of 8 million enrollees. And it's one more nail in the Republican's anti-Obamacare coffin.