Usually, parents pay for children’s insurance. Now one state plans to flip that norm. Advocates hope to insure some folks who don’t qualify for other assistance programs—while opponents say a new law could unfairly advantage non-citizens.
Nationwide, children have lingered on their parents’ health insurance into adulthood. Some children remain on parents’ plans until age 26—long after most offspring fly the so-called nest. States including Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey permit kids to stay on parent plans until age 30!
In California, experts predict more than three million people won’t have health insurance next year. They say 65% of those live in the country illegally. So in buck-the-tide fashion, California will soon allow some children to put their parents on their insurance.
The new law, Assembly Bill 570—or the Parent Healthcare Act—should take effect in 2023.
“Health insurance for young adults caring for dependent parents can be extremely costly,” says Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara. “The signing of the Parent Healthcare Act will help more families care for their parents the way they cared for us.”
At least part of the impulse behind Lara’s idea is biblical: honoring parents. (Ephesians 6:2) The question is whether taxpayers must pay to help subsidize rates for other people’s parents. Further, do non-citizens warrant such assistance from a country they may have entered illegally?
The proposed law has guidelines. A parent who may be insured must rely on his or her child for at least 50% of total cost of living support. Further, the law applies only to those with privately purchased health insurance. Anyone who receives coverage through a job isn’t eligible. For critics of the bill, that’s the catch—since many of those without job coverage are non-citizens.
The California Department of Insurance estimates only about 15,000 adults will qualify for the new law at increased premium costs of between $12-$48 million.
Before lawmakers imposed the guidelines, the law would have applied to more people. It would likely have increased employer payments by $200-$800 million per year. Many businesses simply could not have afforded that increase.
Still, many people disagree with the bill. They say it unevenly helps illegal immigrants and costs insurers huge annual payments every year. Lawyer Raymond Logan handles cases involving uninsured non-citizens. “This bill is still giving free health insurance to those not in this country legally,” he says.
But other folks argue the bill doesn’t do enough. “15,000 of three million [uninsured Californians],” says activist Carlos Fernandez. “That’s barely anything.”
Why? Only laws that are crafted with biblical wisdom will be able to fully care for and protect all people, and human leaders will regularly wrestle with the right application of law to provide appropriately while not enabling wrong or restricting freedoms.
Pray: To understand how to biblically honor parents and for compassion and wisdom for lawmakers and politicians.