Having celebrated Mother’s Day with my mom this past weekend, I know that despite leaving home over a decade ago, she’s still always looking out for me. And she is not alone. Moms (and dads, too) across the country are making sure their young adult children are well taken care of even after they leave home by adding them on to their health insurance plans. Most young adults under 26 are eligible to remain on their parents’ plans if they don’t yet have access to employer-sponsored plans.
This provision from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was always very popular with the public—but until recently, no one was sure just how successful it would be. Initial indicators suggest this option may turn out to be an even bigger success than many of us originally anticipated.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) previously produced a mid-range estimate that projected 1.2 million young adults to gain new coverage under this provision in 2011. Just last week, it was reported that at least 600,000 young adults have already been added to their parents’ plan — and we’re just a third of the way through the year. This suggests that there’s a shot to reach the high estimate prepared by HHS of over 2.1 million young adults gaining new coverage in this year alone.
Another piece of good news is that young adult children in military families are also eligible to take advantage of this option. Eligible children of service members up to age 26 can purchase health care coverage under their parents’ TRICARE plans, retroactive to January 1, 2011. These children were not originally included in the ACA provision and, until this year, lost access to their parents’ plans at age 21 (or 23 for full-time college students).
If you’re interested in learning more about the ACA young adult coverage provision, check out both this blog post by HHS Secretary Sebelius as well as the state-specific resources prepared by our partners at Young Invincibles at their Getting Covered website. We’ve also blogged about the young adult provision previously.
The ACA’s success in improving young adults’ access to health insurance coverage is just one of many ways that it’s helping children. Don’t forget that the ACA also requires that insurers cover children with pre-existing conditions and increases access to preventive care by eliminating cost-sharing for preventive services.
In short, the ACA is giving moms across the nation reason to feel confident that their children have better access to coverage and care. Healthy children — now there’s something every mom wants for Mother’s Day!
—Patrick M. Tigue, Children’s Health Care Coordinator New England Alliance for Children’s Health