Some of the nation's largest insurance companies are reporting that hundreds of thousands of young adults are taking advantage of the health care law provision that allows people under 26 to remain on their parents' health plans, according to an article by Kaiser Health News. The pace appears to be faster than the government expected.
WellPoint, the nation's largest publicly traded health insurer with 34 million customers, said the dependent provision was responsible for adding 280,000 new members. That addition amounted to about one-third its total enrollment growth in the first 3 months of 2011. Others large insurers said they have added tens of thousands of young adults. Aetna added fewer than 100,000; Kaiser Permanente, about 90,000; Highmark Inc, about 72,000, and Health Care Service Corp, about 82,000. Under health care reform, health plans and employers must offer coverage to enrollees' adult children until age 26 even if the young adult no longer lives with his or her parents, is not a dependent on a parent's tax return, or is no longer a student. Before the federal law was passed, many insurers dropped coverage of children either at age 18 or 21 or when the children graduated from college. More than half the states required coverage to continue until at least age 25, but those laws often had several restrictions, the article says.