Healthcare Legislation Will Allow Students To Remain On Parents' Plans

By Staff
October 15, 2009

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced this week that under the House's new healthcare legislation, young adults will be able to remain on their parents' insurance plans through age 26.

"If there's any provision that matters most to college students, it's that one," said Ari Matusiak, a co-founder of Young Invincibles, a health reform group advocating for 18- to 34-year-olds. He told Inside Higher Ed that the majority of college students are covered by their parents' plans and "want to be covered under those plans since they come with little or no cost to them."

He added that the ability to stay on a parent's plan allows students some flexibility between graduation and securing jobs, when many students often find themselves uninsured. Earlier this year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers reported that about 1 million alumni were forced to drop their parents' health insurance coverage upon graduating this year.

"Just think of it--the difference that the passage of this legislation will make to young people--as they graduate from college with health insurance, they can follow their dreams," said Pelosi at a press conference. "Whether it is to start a business or to be a photographer or a writer, self-employed artist or whatever, but to do what they want to do without being confined by having to find a job that has health care benefits. . ."

For college students not covered under their parents' plans, the bill approved by the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday would provide relatively inexpensive, high-deductible catastrophic care to those 25 years and younger. It would cover some preventative care, such as annual check-ups, but would not pay for prescription drugs or emergency room visits.

"We're not big fans of it," said Matusiak, who was quoted in The New York Times. "There's very little meat on the bones on the bill about what the 'young invincible' plan stands for, and the meat that is on the bone leaves a lot to be desired."

Jim Mitchell, director of Student Health Services at Montana State University and spokesperson for the Lookout Mountain Group, which advocates for student healthcare, agreed. He told Inside Higher Ed that the plan "wouldn't really give students the support they need. . .they're low-quality but would probably cost about the same as more comprehensive student health plans."

The Times notes that another likely challenge will be convincing students that coverage is necessary. According to an Urban Institute survey in June 2008, less than half of those between the ages of 19 and 26 strongly agree that health coverage is needed.

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