Healthcare reform adds to insurance rolls

Published: May 23, 2011 at 7:06 PM

WASHINGTON, May 23 (UPI) -- Provisions in the new U.S. healthcare reform law meant to add people to insurance rolls appear to be working, figures from companies and a recent study show.

One of the provisions in the Affordable Care Act allowed young adults who are not full-time students to remain on their parents' insurance plans until they are 26 years old. This has resulted in a pick-up of 600,000 additional people with coverage in the first quarter of the year, Forbes Magazine reported Monday.

The figure comes from insurance companies. Wellpoint, which has 34 million customers, covered 280,000 additional people at the end of the first quarter, while Aetna added almost 100,000.

Among companies that gained in the number of people they insured, Kaiser Permanente added 90,000, while Highmark added 72,000.

Adding young people to the number of insured customers is a big benefit to everyone else, because young people do not get sick as often or for as long a period as older customers. As a result, insurance companies made record profits in the first quarter.

Insurance regulators could turn some of those profits into benefits for customers, by denying companies rate hikes, the newspaper said.

In addition, a recent Kaiser study showed that 46 percent more small businesses -- those with 10 or fewer employees -- were now offering health insurance to their workers.

The gain was prompted by a tax benefit offered in the Affordable Care Act.

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