A Simple Approach for Expanding Eligibility to Health Insurance

College GradIn New York State, 31% of uninsured residents are young adults between the ages 19 and 29. To help this population and reduce the state's uninsured rolls, Governor Paterson wants to require private employers to offer health insurance to workers' dependents who are between the ages 19 and 29.  The proposal would expand eligibility to some 800,000 uninsured New Yorkers and the Governor's Office projects about 80,000 would take advantage of the new rule.  According to the New York Times, business groups appear to be supportive of the idea, which would not require employers to help pay for coverage, merely to make it available.

The proposal is not unique to New York and represents a growing trend across states.  At least 11 states require insurance companies to offer coverage of dependents to age 25.  Iowa enacted the rule as part of an expansive health care reform package last May, House File 2539. And, New Jersey has extended the requirement to age 30.  

This is a small but meaningful step that states can take to help increase coverage options for families and young adults.  President-Elect Obama has similarly embraced the idea, with a proposed requirement on insurers to offer coverage of dependents to age 25.

Commonwealth Fund - Rite of Passage? Why Young Adults Become Uninsured and How New Policies Can Help, 2008 Update
Progressive States Network - Improve Access to Private Coverage