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Young adults on parents’ insurance stay healthier

Young adults who were able to stay on or join their parents’ health insurance plans after the 2010 federal health law was implemented reported that they’re in better physical and mental health compared with those in a control group who didn’t benefit from that aspect of the law, according to a study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The researchers from Boston Children’s Hospital and the Harvard School of Public Health surveyed more than 26,000 adults ages 19 to 25 both before and after the Affordable Care Act was implemented and found that 6 percent more reported being in excellent physical health and 4 percent more in excellent mental health in 2011 compared with a decade earlier. Those in the control group, who were ages 26 to 34, reported no significant change. Out-of-pocket health expenses decreased by 18 percent in adults under 26 while such expenses didn’t change significantly in those over 26.

“Knowing that you have health insurance can help people feel more secure, which can certainly improve their mental health,” said study leader Dr. Kao-Ping Chua, a pediatrician at Children’s. “The reason why it would improve their physical health is less clear, but it may be due to the fact that they’re receiving more primary health care services.” D.K.

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