Five Key Ways the Affordable Care Act Affects Young People

A teen boy weighs himself on a medical scale.

Still trying to figure out how the Affordable Care Act affects the young people you work with? We’ve written about what the ACA means for runaway and homeless youth, about a youth drop-in center acting as a health insurance “navigator,” and about the benefits of the new health insurance marketplace.

Here's another resource for you: A presentation offered earlier this year by the Interagency Working Group on Youth’s Solutions Desk does a great job of encapsulating the things you and the youth you work with should know about the law. Here are some key points from the webinar “Adolescents and the Affordable Care Act” (PDF, 1.52MB):

  • Extended health insurance coverage for emerging adults to age 26 starts in 2014. Youth whose parents have insurance can remain on a parent’s plan into their mid-twenties.
  • Preventative services are expanded. Services related to the critical health issues in adulthood such as depression, substance abuse, and domestic and interpersonal violence screenings are covered and recommended for ages 18-21.
  • Emerging adults with pre-existing conditions cannot be excluded from coverage. For example, young people who are HIV-positive or have diabetes cannot be excluded on the basis of their disease.
  • The law expands school-based health centers and pregnancy assistance. The ACA has awarded over 500 grants to expand in-school health services for all young people and allow pregnant and parenting youth to have a seamless network of services that enables them to complete high school or post-secondary school.
  • The law ensures parity for mental health and substance abuse problems. Youth will be able to access mental health and substance abuse services more easily. Coverage for mental health issues, for instance, must be comparable to the coverage provided for general medical and surgical care.
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