Skip to main content

Advanced Search

Advanced Search

Current Filters

Filter your query

Publication Types



Newsletter Article


House to Extend Health Coverage to Young Adults on Parents' Policies

By Jane Norman, CQ HealthBeat Associate Editor

October 13, 2009 – Young adults will be able remain on their parents' health insurance policies until they reach the age of 27 under the Democratic health bill being developed in the U.S. House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said at a press conference Tuesday.

The California Democrat also repeated her support for a public option within the health insurance exchanges, on the same day the Senate Finance Committee approved, 14–9, legislation that substituted a co-op system for the public plan. House leaders are continuing to work on a final version of their legislation (HR 3200) following approval by three separate committees.

"We in Congress are saying to the American people that you are mandated to have health insurance," Pelosi said. "But unless we have a public option, we are putting them at the mercy of the health insurers."

The Finance Committee already has softened monetary penalties for not obtaining mandated health insurance, arousing deep unhappiness among insurance companies worried that healthy young adults will continue to opt out of the system. House Democrats said their approach would add that same group to the larger insurance pool, spreading out risk.

Pelosi said that one out of every three young adults goes without insurance, a group often referred to as "young invincibles" because of their belief they won't fall sick, become injured or need hospital care. Many lose coverage under their parents' policies when they turn 19 or, if they are full-time students, when they graduate from college.

The Commonwealth Fund reported in August that 13.2 million Americans between the ages of 19 and 29 lacked insurance coverage in 2007, up by more than 2 million since 2000. While 26 states have approved legislation to expand coverage under parents' policies, there's no national requirement, and the high rate of unemployment among young adults has made the uninsured problem even worse, the fund's report said.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said at the event with members of a coalition of youth organizations that it's not yet clear how much in additional savings the provision adding young adults to their parents' policies would add to the House bill. "We're in the process of trying to get that piece teased out by the Congressional Budget Office," he said. "It stands to reason it would reduce overall costs."

Pelosi wouldn't commit to a date when negotiations on the House bill would conclude and the bill would come to the floor. She said leaders continue to "go back and forth" with CBO over costs but said a final product will emerge from Congress yet this year. "I'm hopeful we'll have a bill by Thanksgiving, others say Christmas, certainly this year," she said.

Publication Details