Young Adult Health Insurance Legislation Introduced

February 6, 2007

College students can count this among their advantages: they will probably continue to have health insurance through their parents’ policies. Friends or siblings of a similar age who are not in school, on the other hand, can find themselves faced with unaffordable premiums in the individual insurance market. Many of them will wind up without any health insurance at all.

To allow more young people to continue to be covered under their families’ policies, Assemblyman Robin Schimminger has reintroduced legislation (A.2355) that would authorize health insurers to offer to families the ability to include unmarried children under the age of 25 under their health insurance contracts.

Under current law, certain unemancipated children, including college students until reaching the age of 23, are allowed to retain health insurance coverage under their family's plan. Children over the age of 19 who choose not to go to college and instead enter the workforce must be dropped from a family's health insurance coverage unless they are incapable of self-sustaining employment.

“It seems unfair that a child living at home who decides to seek employment instead of attending college cannot be covered by the same family health insurance policy as the rest of his or her family,” Schimminger stated. He said that the measure would help to reduce the number of young adults who go without health insurance as they struggle to get established.

Under this bill, an insurer may, but is not obligated to, allow a family to keep covering that family's children until the age of 25. Insurers may set the criteria that must be met to continue to insure a child, for example, that the child must live at home and be part of the household. An insurer could require increased premiums for a family that continues coverage of an unemancipated child up to the age of 25, but the cost of the coverage would represent considerable savings over rates for individual policies. This legislation does not alter the benefits that certain children up to the age of 23 currently receive if they are in college or those of certain dependent children who are incapable of self-sustaining employment due to developmental or other disabilities.

“Enacting this legislation allows for families to continue to ensure the well-being and health of their children as they transition from high school into the working world,” Schimminger concluded.

This legislation is sponsored by Senator William Larkin in the State Senate.