|One year ago, I wrote a column
entitled "Turning 19
can be hazardous to your health." The column explained
that millions of young single adults lack health insurance
because they can't afford it and because insurers drop them from
their parents' policies when they turn 19 unless they are
full-time college students.
A report issued last year by the
Commonwealth Fund disclosed that about 14 million Americans
between the ages of 19 and 29 were uninsured in 2004, up 2.5
million from just four years earlier. Nearly 40 percent of 19 to 23
year-olds who do not attend college lack coverage, usually
because they have been dropped as dependents from their parents
health plan at work.
As of June 2006, only a few
states had passed laws requiring state-regulated
health plans to continue coverage for several years beyond 18,
regardless of the educational status of a dependent. New
Jersey, Colorado, Massachusetts, Utah, and New Mexico were among
the first states to extend the age at which dependent coverage may be
Utah and New Mexico,
dependents are covered until their 26th birthday,
regardless of whether they are enrolled in school. A New
Jersey law allows dependents up to age 30 to remain on their
parents' plans, although companies may charge more for such
Colorado residents up to age 25 now can be
covered under their parents' plans if they are unmarried,
financially dependent on their parents, or living with them.
In the past few months, the
number of states tackling this problem has grown, with similar
laws having been enacted in Montana, Washington, Maine, and New
York. Such a law may receive final approval by the New
Hampshire Legislature this week.
months ago, Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer signed a bill to allow
parents to keep their unmarried children covered under their
health insurance policies until the age of 25, even if their
child is no longer a student.
bill's sponsor, Montana Senator Greg Lind told the Missoulian
newspaper that "raising the age limit for dependent coverage
from 23 to 25 and eliminating the full-time student requirement
will ensure that Montana's insurance laws better reflect the
realities of the world in which we live.”
month, Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a similar measure
into law. Now,
carriers and state employee programs in Washington must allow
working parents an opportunity to extend coverage for unmarried
children up to age 25.
ago, Maine Gov.
signed into law a bill that extends coverage to unmarried
dependent adult children up to age 25 through their parents'
policies by mandating that insurers include it as an available
product for employers to offer.
A new law was
enacted in New York several weeks ago which
authorizes health insurance companies to keep covering a
family's children under a family policy until those children
reach age 25, provided that the child is still living at home.
Under current law, a child over the age of 19 must be dropped
from a family's health insurance coverage unless that child is
in college or is mentally incapable of self-sustaining
the idea of insuring more unmarried adult children has caught
the attention of lawmakers and businesses in Texas -- the state
with the highest rate of residents lacking health insurance.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry
proclaimed April 23-29 as Cover the Uninsured Week as a way of
calling attention to the health insurance crisis in the Lone
Star State. The Texas Hospital Association chimed in by
urging lawmakers to take concrete steps to solve the problem.
Rep. Garnet Coleman and Sen.
Kip Averitt accepted the challenge by sponsoring legislation
requiring health care benefit plans to allow unmarried children
of any age to be covered under a parent's or grandparent's
health insurance policy or plan if the cost of the premium is
political movement to secure health care for young unmarried
singles is gaining momentum.
the issue was barely on the nation's political radar screen.
Last week, Presidential contender Barack Obama mentioned health
care for twenty-something singles in a health care reform plan
he unveiled during a speech in New Hampshire.
difference a year makes.
Unmarried America 2007
Thomas F. Coleman, Executive Director of Unmarried America, is an
attorney with 33 years of experience in singles' rights, family
diversity, domestic partner benefits, and marital status discrimination.
Each week he adds a new commentary to Column One: Eye on Unmarried
firstname.lastname@example.org. Unmarried America is a nonprofit
information service for unmarried employees, consumers, taxpayers, and