By SHARMINA MANANDHAR
WASHINGTON (Oct. 13, 2009)—Young adults will be able to be covered under their parents' health insurance until age 26, according to health care reform provisions proposed Tuesday by House Democrats, including Rep. Chris Van Hollen.
Van Hollen, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper, D-Pa., attended a news conference to announce the provision, along with youth advocacy group representatives from Young Invincibles and Campus Progress.
"Young adults are the most uninsured group in the country. They often lose coverage at 19 when they graduate from high school or when they graduate from college," Pelosi said. "Once they enter the work force, they face new obstacles getting insurance."
About 30 percent of 18-to-24-year-olds lacked health insurance in 2008, according to a Census Bureau report released last month.
A House health care reform bill is expected by Thanksgiving, Pelosi said, and will include a government-run, health insurance option so that the public, mandated to get coverage under the comprehensive health care reform, has an alternative and is not at the mercy of the health insurance companies.
"I am for the public option," Pelosi said. "That will be the House position, that will be the position we will go to the conference to fight for." By conference, Pelosi was referring to meetings to reconcile differences between House and Senate versions of health care bills.
The announcement came the same day the Senate Finance Committee passed its health care legislation, 14-9. That bill, which does not contain a public option, will be merged with one passed by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, which includes both a public option and the young adults provision.
The health care legislation, however, has so far failed to attract considerable Republican support. On Tuesday's vote, Sen. Olympia Snowe from Maine was the only Republican to vote for the legislation.
Van Hollen described the young adult provision as a "win-win situation" that will not only provide affordable coverage to young adults but will also save money within the overall health reform bill.
Young adults, he also said, are also most likely to hold part-time or temporary jobs without health coverage, making it "essential that we provide this kind of coverage to young adults."
Dahlkemper said that the provision is a "critical piece of the overall health care puzzle that will help reduce cost, expand quality affordable health care to all Americans."
"Giving young adults the option of staying on their parents' health care coverage while they move in and out of schools and jobs is just an easy, simple solution to give them support and stability during this very volatile time of their lives," Dahlkemper said. "It keeps their medical bills off the taxpayers' burden and it can even help drive down health insurance premiums by adding a large number of low-risk individuals to the health insurance pool."
Van Hollen, Dahlkemper, Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and Rep. Allyson Schwartz, D-Pa., had sent letters to the chairmen and chairwoman of the related House committees last week voicing their concern for the young adults.
The provision for young adults was also one of the points outlined by President Obama in his health care reform rally in Maryland last month.
"Because under this plan—listen up, young people—under my plan, if your parents have health insurance and you're currently on their policy," Obama said in University of Maryland, College Park. "You will automatically be able to keep your coverage until you're 26 years old."
Capital News Service contributed to this report.