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Report examines how Affordable Care Act will impact small towns

According to a new report released July 7 by the Center for Rural Affairs, nearly 15 million young adults (19-29 years of age) in America are without health insurance. However, the report estimates that over 12 million of that young adult uninsured population will obtain coverage under provisions of the Affordable Care Act. These provisions are especially important for small towns and rural areas.

A full copy of the embargoed report can be viewed and downloaded at:

"Access to affordable, quality health insurance means more young adults can stay, return, or relocate to rural communities," said Alyssa Charney with the Center for Rural Affairs and the author of the report.

The report examines how the Affordable Care Act significantly benefits young adults, specifically those in rural areas, with provisions that include the ability to remain on their parents' policies, the creation of health insurance marketplaces, the elimination of pre-existing conditions, and incentives for employers to provide coverage.

According to Charney's report, of the approximately 7 million rural residents between 20 and 29 years of age, 600,000 will be eligible to remain on their parents' health insurance until age 26 pursuant to the Affordable Care Act. Nationally it is estimated that 3.4 million young adults will be eligible for coverage under this provision.

"The Affordable Care Act benefits rural young people in ways that extend well beyond individual health and affordability, because supporting the younger generation means supporting our rural communities for generations to come," explained Charney.

"The places where young people choose to live, the work they pursue, and the passions they follow shouldn't be decided by limitations on how or where to find health insurance. The Affordable Care Act addresses these limitations," Charney added.

Rural communities are quickly declining in population, with many young adults leaving in search of outside opportunities and benefits. However, it would be incorrect to assume that this migration is driven by a lack of desire to live in rural places.

Forty percent of Americans would prefer to live in a rural area or small town, compared to the less than 20 percent who currently do, according to a survey from the National Association of Realtors.

The author concludes that access to affordable, quality health insurance means more young adults can stay, return, or relocate to rural communities. Young farmers, entrepreneurs, and rural health care providers not only have much to gain from the Affordable Care Act, but they also have valuable skills and knowledge to contribute to rural communities.

This is the 13th report in a series dealing with how health care reform and the Affordable Care Act will impact rural America. Visit to review or download earlier Center for Rural Affairs health care reports.

Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through action oriented programs addressing social, economic and environmental issues.