Impact of the Affordable Care Act's Dependent Coverage Expansion on the Health Care and Health Status of Young Adults
What Do We Know So Far
Published in: Medical Care Research and Review, [Epub January 2017]
Posted on RAND.org on March 14, 2017
The dependent coverage expansion (DCE), a component of the Affordable Care Act, required private health insurance policies that cover dependents to offer coverage for policyholders' children through age 25. This review summarizes peer-reviewed research on the impact of the DCE on the chain of consequences through which it could affect public health. Specifically, we examine the impact of the DCE on insurance coverage, access to care, utilization of care, and health status. All studies find that the DCE increased insurance coverage, but evidence regarding downstream impacts is inconsistent. There is evidence that the DCE reduced high out-of-pocket expenditures and frequent emergency room visits and increased behavioral health treatment. Evidence regarding the impact of the DCE on health is sparse but suggestive of positive impacts on self-rated health and health behavior. Inferences regarding the public health impact of the DCE await studies with greater methodological diversity and longer follow-up periods.