"This claim fails to take into account many of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act that make coverage more affordable," CAP said. "For many young adults, these financial and consumer protections will lower their overall health care costs and improve their health and wellness."
The healthcare law's biggest provisions apply to people who buy insurance on their own, rather than receiving benefits through an employer. That group includes a lot of young people, who are less likely to have employer-based coverage.
The law offers subsidies to help people pay for coverage they buy through a newly created insurance exchange.
Individuals who make roughly $46,000 per year are eligible for subsidies to help cover their premiums, and individuals with incomes below roughly $29,000 can receive subsidies to help cover their out-of-pocket costs. (The income requirements are higher for families.)
Only about 3 percent of young people buy coverage on their own and won't be eligible for subsidies to help offset the cost, according to CAP's analysis.
The think tank also said the political focus on premiums is too narrow because the law offers new options and consumer protections to young people — more than 30 percent of whom were uninsured in 2010.
"Comparing the price of coverage before and after health care reform is just as unreasonable as comparing the price of Fred Flintstone’s self-powered Stone Age automobile to a modern-day hybrid vehicle — the former only functions as long as you are healthy and capable of running everywhere you need to go, but the minute you break an ankle or become ill, you may as well have never had a car in the first place," CAP said.