News Outlets Widely Ignore News That 2.5M Have Insurance Because Of ACA


On December 14, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that the Affordable Care Act contributed to 2.5 million young adults getting health insurance. This news was widely ignored by television news outlets, receiving 3 minutes, 22 seconds, of total coverage by CBS, ABC, and MSNBC on December 14, while CNN, Fox News, and NBC did not mention the ACA news.

HHS: "Affordable Care Act Helps 2.5 Million Additional Young Adults Get Health Insurance"

On December 14, HHS Announced That ACA "Help[ed] 2.5 Million Additional Young Adults Get Health Insurance." In a December 14 press release titled, "Affordable Care Act Helps 2.5 Million Additional Young Adults Get Health Insurance," HHS stated:

Today, the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data illustrating that the Affordable Care Act continues to significantly increase the number of young adults who have health insurance.

Because of the health care law, young adults can stay on their parents' insurance plans through age 26. This policy took effect in September 2010. Data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) shows that since September 2010, the percentage of adults aged 19-25 covered by a private health insurance plan increased significantly, with approximately 2.5 million more young adults with insurance coverage compared to the number of young adults who would have been insured without the law.

"Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, 2.5 million more young adults don't have to live with the fear and uncertainty of going without health insurance," said Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "Moms and dads around the country can breathe a little easier knowing their children are covered." [HHS, 12/14/11]

ABC, CBS, MSNBC Devoted 3 Minutes, 22 Seconds, Total Coverage To ACA News On December 14

CBS Evening News Devoted 2 Minutes, 26 Seconds, To ACA News. On December 14, the CBS Evening News devoted 2 minutes and 26 seconds of coverage to the news that the health care law contributed to 2.5 million young adults gaining health insurance. CBS also covered the Republican presidential primary, the end of the war in Iraq, and marriage rates in the United States, among other stories. From the CBS Evening News:

SCOTT PELLEY (host): One thing both Romney and Gingrich agree on is their desire to repeal President Obama`s health care reform law. Much of it hasn`t taken effect yet, but one significant part has started -- that part that allows young people to stay on their parents` health insurance until they`re 26 years old. We wondered whether it`s working. We asked Wyatt Andrews to find out.


ANDREWS: Caryn Powers (ph) is one of those young adults who already benefits from the health care reform act. At 24 years old, she has Crohn`s disease, an immune disorder that attacks the stomach and intestines.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s like having the stomach flu, but it`s 100 times worse.

ANDREWS: Caryn`s medicine alone costs more than $3,000 a month. If she could not stay on her parents` health insurance, she says, she`d be bankrupt and unable to work as a nurse.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If I had to go off my parents` policy, I would not be able to have the medications that I need, the treatments that I need. I`d be unable to go to the doctor`s. I would be very, very sick.

ANDREWS: The administration says 2.5 million young adults now have insurance thanks to their parents and to health care reform. Patients rights advocates like Ron Pollack (ph) of the nonprofit group Families U.S.A. call this an accomplishment, because young adults 19 to 25 are the most likely not to have health insurance.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a benefit for those people who are struggling to find a job or who are in an entry-level job and they can`t pay for health insurance. And now they have the ability to stay on their parents` policy until their 26th birthday.

ANDREWS: But as life saving as this was for Caryn, the young adult provision is not free. Last year, the administration itself projected that this one benefit alone could increase group insurance premiums nationwide by up to 1.2 percent. High-cost projections are precisely why Republican candidates like Mitt Romney say ending the health care act is the first thing they will do.

ROMNEY: And if I`m president, on day one, I will take action to stop Obamacare in its tracks and I will get it repealed.


ANDREWS: So the announcement of this early success was in part a political answer to the Republicans, that the more people come to depend on health care reform, Scott, the tougher it will be to repeal it.

PELLEY: Wyatt, thanks very much. [CBS Evening News, 12/14/11, via Nexis]

ABC's World News Devoted 20 Seconds To ACA News. On December 14, ABC's World News devoted 20 seconds to the ACA news. World News' coverage also included the end of the Iraq war, the Republican presidential primary, and New York City's gun control efforts, among other stories. From World News:

DIANE SAWYER (host): And there was an announcement from the White House today about the President's health care reform.

The government said 2.5 million young adults who were uninsured now have received health insurance because of that law, which allows children to stay on their parents' insurance until age 26. [ABC, World News, 12/14/11, via Nexis]

On MSNBC, ACA News Received 36 Seconds Of Coverage When David Axelrod Noted "2.5 Million Young People ... Have Health Insurance Now Who Wouldn't Have." On the December 14 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews interviewed Obama senior adviser David Axelrod. At the conclusion of the interview, in which Axelrod and Matthews covered the end of the Iraq war and Osama bin Laden, Axelrod noted that "there was a new report out that shows that 2.5 million young people between 19 and 25 have health insurance now who wouldn`t have had health insurance because of the -- because of the health care reform, the Affordable Care Act." From Hardball:

MATTHEWS: He also caught probably the worst fiend in American history, Osama bin Laden. So he`s done specific things.

As you go into next year`s election, do you expect the president will lay out some mission goals with the same kind of specificity for a second term, where we can judge him? In other words, will he say, I did health care in this first term, I`m going to do something else that I will point to in the second term?

Will there be that kind of scoreboard setup as there was last time?

AXELROD: Yes, there will be, Chris.

Let me just say before we move on to that on health care, just today, there was a new report out that shows that 2.5 million young people between 19 and 25 have health insurance now who wouldn`t have had health insurance because of the -- because of the health care reform, the Affordable Care Act.

So it`s just one more indication of -- of the impact of that law, the positive impact of that law as it`s begun to be implemented. So that`s going to be important for -- certainly for those kids and those families, but for the country as well.

Look, you know, I think this president`s done some enormously positive things. You named some of them. Saving the American auto industry is another, ending don`t ask, don`t tell. I mean, there`s a whole range of things we can talk about. [MSNBC, Hardball, 12/15/11, via Nexis]

CNN, Fox, NBC Did Not Mention ACA News On December 14

CNN, Fox, NBC's Nightly News Devoted No Coverage To ACA News. On December 14, CNN, Fox News, and NBC's Nightly News devoted no coverage to the report that 2.5 million young people would now be insured because of the health care law. A search of CNN's transcripts for the day show the network covered stories such as "Showbiz Movie Secrets," the GOP primary, hazing at Florida A&M University, the payroll tax holiday, the end of the Iraq war, and "Deadly Distracted Driving." Fox News' primetime shows also heavily covered the GOP primary, while also featuring stories such as GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann's body language, an interview with Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus, and a Christmas card sent by San Juan, Puerto Rico, mayor Jorge Santini. NBC's Nightly News featured stories such as "Elizabeth Taylor's jewels sold at auction," "Baby seal naps on New Zealand woman's couch," Iran's connection with Iraq, and a guide to purchasing pajamas as holiday gifts.


Media Matters reviewed December 14 programming on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC, as well as the December 14 editions of NBC's Nightly News, ABC's World News, and the CBS Evening News. Media Matters searched Nexis transcripts for the terms "health care," "insurance," and "2.5 million." For transcripts of programs not available in Nexis, Media Matters searched the TVEyes database.

Posted In
Health Care, Health Care Reform
Fox News Channel, MSNBC, CNN
CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, World News with Diane Sawyer
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.