For widening the health insurance coverage among low-income and undocumented families, California legislators have put forward a bill to let adult children add their parents as dependents to their health insurance coverage. A proposal in the state Legislature authored by Assemblyman Miguel Santiago passed their first committee hearing recently. If it becomes law, California would be the only state to follow the same.
- The big change: Former President Barack Obama’s health law let parents keep their adult children on their health plans until at least age 26, a change that helped millions of young people transition to adulthood as jobs were scarce after the Great Recession. That change was so popular that many states have gone further and let adults keep their children on until age 30.
- The historic decision of California: Now, California could do the same for older people who are transitioning into retirement after the pandemic. Supporters, including Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara, say it will save families money by, among other things, limiting their expenses to one shared out-of-pocket maximum limit.
- A hand of help to all: Supporters have framed the bill as a way to increase health care coverage among the state’s uninsured population, which is made up mostly of people who are living in the country illegally and are not eligible for government-funded insurance programs like Medicaid and Medicare. “When we were young, our parents were there for us and took care of us,” Lara said. “Now we can take care of them when they need it the most.”
- Unfavored Opinions: But business groups say adding lots of older people to their large group insurance plans will just drive up their already skyrocketing premium costs. Employer premiums would increase between $200 million and $800 million per year, depending on how many people sign up. The result, they say, would be higher health care costs for everyone.
- Eligibility for opting for the Bill: The bill would not be an open invitation for parents to ditch their health insurance plans to join their children. To be eligible, parents would have to meet the Internal Revenue Service’s definition of a dependent, meaning they rely on their children for at least 50% of their support