SACRAMENTO — California is the first state to allow some adult children to add their parents as dependents on their insurance plans, a move advocates hope will cover the small population of people living illegally in the country who don’t qualify. to other assistance programs.
The nationwide trend has been to let children dwell on their parents’ health insurance plans. Former President Barack Obama’s health care law allowed children to remain on their parents’ plans until age 26. Some states have gone further and allow children to remain on their parents’ plans until at least age 30, including Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
But California is now the first state to go the other way by allowing some adults to enroll in their children’s health insurance plans. Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, signed the law this week, but it won’t take effect until 2023.
“Signing the Parents’ Health Act will help more families take care of their parents like they took care of us,” Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara said.
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 in the retail market. Those who obtain insurance through their work, which includes most residents of the state, are not eligible.
It makes the law much cheaper. A previous version, which would have applied to more people, could have increased employer contributions between $200 million and $800 million per year, depending on the number of people enrolled. 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, which will result in an annual increase of between $12 million and $48 million per year for individual premiums, according to an analysis by the Senate Appropriations Committee. 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 are living in the country illegally.
Covered California, the state’s health insurance marketplace, offers discounted insurance plans, but only to citizens. California’s Medicaid program provides government-funded insurance to people age 50 and older and age 25 and younger, regardless of immigration status. But some adults might not be eligible because they earn just above the income limits.
The University of California, Berkeley Labor Center predicts that more than 3 million people will be without health insurance in California next year, including 65% of people living illegally in the country.
The law is “a way to bridge that gap,” Santiago said, while helping other adults who “fall through the cracks.”
“We’re all talking about increasing access to healthcare, and here’s a really simple way to do it,” he said.