(HealthDay News) — Significantly more 19- to 25-year-olds are getting preventive care, including routine checkups, blood pressure (BP) measurement, and dental care since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) went into effect in the United States, according to a research letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Xuesong Han, PhD, director of surveillance and health services research at the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, and colleagues compared the change in the use of medical services among 3,310 people who were 19 to 25 years old in 2009, before the health-reform law went into effect, with 6,840 young adults who were the same age in 2011 and 2012.

The researchers also looked at how the law affected adults between 26 and 30 years of age, as this group wasn’t eligible to remain on their parents’ plans. The study included 2,245 people in this age group in 2009 and 4,799 in 2011 to 2012.

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Since 2010, the health-reform law has allowed children to stay on their parent’s health insurance plan until they turn 26. After the law went into effect, the percentage of young adults getting dental checkups increased almost 6%. The number of young people having their BP checked went up almost 4% and routine checkups increased by nearly 5%, compared with young adults before the provision went into effect.

The older age group saw no increase in dental checkups or BP measurement. They had a slight increase in routine health checkups, and a slight decline in flu shots and Pap tests.

“Although our study is an early evaluation, there are benefits to the Affordable Care Act extended-benefits provision,” Han told HealthDay.

Although the law doesn’t require insurers to cover dental checkups through a parent’s plan until a child is 26, many dental insurance companies have opted to do so, according to Han.

Between 2009 and the 2011 to 2012 period, the number of young adults with private dental insurance rose from 36.7% to 42.4%, according to the study.


  1. Han X et al. N Engl J Med. 2014;371:2341-2342.