Health Care

New Law Lets Kids Stay on Parents' Health Insurance Until Age 26

| by National Womens Law Center

by Stephanie Drahan, Outreach Associate
National Women's Law Center

As we like to repeat, in March, a historic health care reform law passed! In September, many of the provisions will start going into effect, including one of the most popular: the "under 26" or dependent coverage provision

This provision allows young adults who are under 26 and do not have job-based health insurance to stay on their parents' insurance plan until they turn 26. This gives lots of young adults some needed flexibility. They can hold out for that "dream" job. They can take that job that doesn't offer insurance, but provides them with irreplaceable experience. Or they can work in a job that doesn't offer health insurance, but does pay the bills while they intern or volunteer while looking for that "dream" job. How will this provision impact you? We want to hear your story!

I graduated from college—on time—at 22. My insurance was dropped about 10 days later. Upon graduation, my only plan was to enjoy my final summer, move to Boston, and start looking for jobs in the Fall. Unfortunately, that dream job did not come along right away, and instead I worked in a restaurant while volunteering at local reproductive rights organizations.

Needless to say, most restaurants do not offer their employees health insurance, so imagine my parents' delight when I called to say I had accidentally stabbed myself in the hand. Luckily, when my insurance with my parents' plan ended, my father insisted I get basic insurance, so my stitches and emergency room visit were covered. But I had also lost sensation in my finger. I was told surgery was an option, but because the nerves were so small, there was no guarantee it would work. And since my insurance wouldn't cover it, it would be costly. I never even went to meet with the surgeon to discuss my options. Luckily, most of the feeling in my finger has since returned, but I always wonder—had I been able to stay on my father's plan, would things be different? I know I certainly would have at least met with the surgeon to discuss my options.

The new dependent coverage provision would have helped me. Will it help you? Will it help you gain or maintain coverage through a parent? Will it help you keep your child (or grandchild) on your insurance plan during this tough economic downturn? Do you work for a company that has opted to start extending dependent coverage early? Are you a health care provider excited about this new provision? We want to hear your stories.

The National Women’s Law Center is working in collaboration with Young Invincibles and other health care reform advocates to collect stories on how the dependent coverage provision will impact people across the country. If you are a parent, young adult under age 26, health care provider or employer and eagerly anticipating the benefits of this provision, we want to hear from you.