By ADAM BEAM, Associated Press
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – California is the first state to allow certain adult children to add their parents as dependents to their insurance plans, a move that advocates hope will cover the small population of people living illegally in the country who do not qualify for other aid programs.
The national trend has been to let children dwell on their parents’ health insurance plans. Former President Barack Obama’s Health Care Act allows children to stay on their parents’ plans until the age of 26. Some states have gone further and allowed children to stay on their parents’ plans for at least 30 years, including Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.
But California is now the first state to go the other way, allowing some adults to enroll in their children’s health insurance plans. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, signed the law this week, but it won’t come into effect until 2023.
“The signing of the Parents’ Health Act will help more families to take care of their parents like they took care of us,” said Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara.
To be eligible, adults must rely on their child for at least 50% of their total support. The law only applies to people who buy their health insurance on the personal market. Those who receive insurance through their employment, which includes most of the state’s residents, are not eligible.
This makes the law much cheaper. A previous version, which would apply to more people, could have increased employer contributions by $ 200 million to $ 800 million per year, depending on the number of people registered. This prompted business groups, including the California Chamber of Commerce, to oppose the bill, winning key concessions.
This narrower version of the law ensures that far fewer people can register. The California Department of Insurance estimates that only 15,000 adults will use this law, resulting in an annual increase of $ 12 million to $ 48 million per year in individual premiums, according to a Senate Credit Committee analysis. The change was enough for the Chamber of Commerce to lift its opposition.
The author of the law, Democratic Congressman Miguel Santiago of Los Angeles, said it targets people who cannot get subsidized health insurance because they live illegally in the country.
Covered California, the state’s health insurance market, offers discounted insurance plans, but only to citizens. California’s Medicaid program offers government-funded insurance to people aged 50 and over and 25 and under, regardless of their immigration status. But some adults may not be eligible because they are earning just above the income limits.
The University of California, Berkeley Labor Center predicts that more than 3 million people will not have health insurance in California next year, 65% of whom are living illegally in the country.
The law is “a way to close that gap,” Santiago said, while helping other adults who “fall through the cracks.”
“We are all talking about improving access to health care, and here is a very easy way to do it,” he said.
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