Assembly Committee Approves Legislation Extending Age Limit for Children To Receive Health Coverage Under Parents
The Assembly Health Committee on Tuesday "voted overwhelmingly in favor" of a bill (AB 1698) by Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez (D-Los Angeles) that would ban health insurers from removing dependents under age 26 from a parent's health plan, the Sacramento Bee reports. Under current state law, dependents over age 19 are removed from a parent's health plan unless they enroll full time in college, in which case eligibility for coverage is extended to age 23.
The bill does not specify who would pay higher premiums to extend dependents' coverage. According to the Bee, employers or families could pay all or part of the cost. Under the bill, the state would absorb costs to renew coverage for state employees' dependents who recently were removed from health plans because they reached age 23.
Nunez's staff was uncertain if the bill would increase costs to the state. According to the Bee, "state coffers would benefit" if current Medi-Cal beneficiaries were eligible for coverage under a parent's health plan.
Health Access, the California Labor Federation, the California Medical Association and the California Psychological Association support the bill.
No formal opposition was registered at a public hearing on Tuesday.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), the California Chamber of Commerce and the California Association of Health Plans have not taken a position on the bill.
Nunez said, "We think this is a good bill (that) helps address the health care crisis that California currently is facing."
Supporters of the bill have said insurers could benefit by adding a generally healthy group to existing insurance pools.
Health Access lobbyist Beth Capell said that people above the age allowed to be covered by their parents' health plan, but typically too young to purchase their own insurance, "tend not to have settled into a long-term job that gives them health benefits." She added, "This bill helps to cover an important population."
Angie Wei of CLF said that it is less costly for the state to help extend health care coverage to dependents on their parents' policies than to pay for an uninsured person's care after a catastrophic accident or illness.
AHP spokesperson Bobby Pena said the group supports reducing the number of uninsured state residents but has not yet determined whether the bill would have negative effects.
Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association President Jon Coupal said the bill is "feel-good legislation that will have adverse effects on everybody." He added, "I don't think we need legislation to tell insurance companies what kinds of policies they have to cover. Every mandate results in higher costs among everybody."
National Tax Limitation Committee President Lew Uhler said, "What's happening through the political process is that we've priced our self out of the market. We need to back off that" (Sanders, Sacramento Bee, 4/20).