"The best-case scenario is that some uninsured Georgians would get coverage for some amount of time," Laura Colbert, executive director of the consumer advocacy group Georgians for a Healthy Future,…
[Washington, DC] – A few weeks ago, Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) spoke out against one of the Affordable Care Act’s most popular provisions, which allows young adults to stay on their parent’s plan up to age 26. Speaking from the House floor he said “I have four kids under the age of 26. I have raised them to be responsible. The average age of soldiers in Vietnam was 19. World War II probably the same. I have raised my kids to be responsible, to get health care at 21. Kids don’t need to be running home to mommy and daddy until they’re 26 for healthcare.” The dependent coverage provision is one of the most popular in the health care law, with polls showing as much as 70% of Americans support the provision.
“Jack Kingston and his family have every right to not extend coverage to their children. That’s their choice. But apparently Rep. Kingston thinks his ideas on how to raise children should dictate the health care choices of millions of families and their children. Rep. Kingston should tell the families in Georgia already benefiting from this provision that he knows best when he tries to take coverage away from their kids,” says Aaron Smith, Co-founder and Executive Director of Young Invincibles.
Rep. Kingston may not know that Georgia already had a law extending dependent coverage before the new health care law. The old Georgia state law extended coverage to young adults up to the age of 25, although it was full of restrictions. The law only required a family plan to offer coverage to young adults that were financially dependent and enrolled as full-time students for at least 5 months of the year, or who were eligible to be a full-time student but prevented due to illness or injury. The state law also did not apply to many large employers that were self-insured. The federal law raised the age to 26, removed almost all of these restrictions, and applies to all employers, including self-insurers.
In 2010, 343,000 19-25 year olds were uninsured in Georgia. An estimated 43,500 young Georgians are predicted to benefit from this new federal provision in 2011, at no cost to the federal or state budget.
Young people across the state are already benefiting. Cory K. is a recent college graduate embarking on her career in a difficult economic time. Having fallen off her parents’ plan after graduation and having been denied private insurance because of a pre-existing condition, Cory was concerned about finding coverage, especially while she was looking for a job. That changed on September 23, 2010 when the dependent care provision of the Affordable Care Act took effect and Cory was allowed back on her mother’s insurance plan. Around that time, Cory was lucky to find a job that offered insurance but she would have to wait 6 months for the coverage to take effect. Because of the dependent care provision, Cory has been able to rejoin her mother’s insurance plan and protect herself from unknown risks and avoid a lapse in coverage.
“Cory’s story is like that of many young adults—recent graduate, new to the job market, trying to stay healthy and covered. Not an easy thing to do in this struggling economy. I’ve traveled all across the State, educating Georgians on how this law benefits them and this important provision especially helps families like Cory’s and countless other Georgians,” said Amanda Ptashkin, Outreach and Advocacy Director of Georgians for a Healthy Future.
Rep. Kingston’s position is at odds with many other Republicans who have supported dependent coverage. For example, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina recently said “[t]here’s some things in there like parents being able to keep their kids on insurance while they’re going to school — that’s good stuff.”
Young Invincibles has a fact sheet on the impact of the dependent coverage provision in Georgia, among other states. Find it here.
Young Invincibles is a national organization committed to mobilizing and expanding opportunities for all young Americans between 18 and 34 years of age. Georgians for a Healthy Future is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a mission to build and mobilize a unified voice, vision and leadership to achieve a healthy future for all Georgians.