Bill Would Provide Continuous Coverage for Those Seeking Employment
TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senators Nia H. Gill, Joseph F. Vitale and Loretta Weinberg which would require insurers in the State of New Jersey to cover unmarried dependents to still receive health insurance on their parent’s family health plan until the age of 30 was approved by the Senate today by a vote of 36-0.
“In today’s job market, even highly qualified young adults are having trouble finding gainful employment,” said Senator Gill, D-Essex and Passaic, the Chair of the Senate Commerce Committee. “And in some cases, the work they do find does not provide health benefits to entry-level employees. By giving parents the ability to extend coverage for their children until the age of 30, we can ensure that while our kids look for job opportunities, their health is not compromised by a lack of insurance.”
“Young adults between 19 and 29 years old are one of the largest and fastest growing segments of the population without health insurance,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex, the Chair of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “During the time period between leaving a parent’s coverage and getting health insurance on their own, too many of these kids are neglecting their health because they simply cannot afford a doctor’s visit. We need to provide a continuous safety net so that they can receive uninterrupted health care access.”
“The cost of providing emergency care when these kids come to the hospital, over something that should have been caught by a regular doctor’s checkup, is part of the reason why health care costs are so high in New Jersey,” said Senator Weinberg, D-Bergen, who sponsored the bill in the Assembly. “Compassion dictates that we don’t leave our children without any access to health insurance, but also, from a fiscal standpoint, it makes sense to encourage regular doctors’ visits over episodic hospital care. We can save more money by promoting good health practices than by forcing young adults into a catch-as-catch-can system of health care.”
The bill, S-2283, would require health insurers in New Jersey to extend coverage for eligible unmarried dependents on a parent’s family health insurance coverage plan to age 30. Under the bill, a dependent is eligible for the extended coverage if he or she is unmarried, has no dependents of their own, is a resident of New Jersey or is enrolled as a full-time student in another state, and is not eligible for coverage under any other health plan. To remain covered, the dependent would have to pay a slightly higher premium, but would be entitled to the same level of coverage as any other dependent child within the health plan.
“While our young adult children are beginning to build lives for themselves, they need to have access to healthcare,” said Senator Weinberg. “We cannot expect them to build for the future if they have to worry how they’re going to afford the next doctor’s visit.”
“This is a simple matter of fairness to those budding young professionals who have not taken root yet,” said Senator Gill. “When they age out of their parents’ health plan, these kids essentially do not have any alternative, and have to forego healthcare until they get a job offering benefits. This gives them access to coverage while they get settled into adult life.”
“Access to quality health care is one of the most basic needs of our constituents, and a large block of uninsured young adults puts a strain on the entire healthcare industry,” said Senator Vitale. “It also puts those young adults in jeopardy, should they suffer some catastrophic illness while uninsured. This bill gives them access to uninterrupted healthcare, and meets the needs of the people we represent.”
The bill now heads to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law.