California first to let kids add parents to insurance plans

<p><p>SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California is the first state to let some adult children add their parents as dependents on their insurance plans, a move advocates hope will cover the small population of people living in the country illegally who don’t qualify for other assistance programs.</p></p><p><p>The trend nationally has been to let children linger on their parents’ health insurance plans.</p></p><p><p>Former President Barack Obama’s health care law let children stay on their parents’ plans until age 26.</p></p><p><p>Some states have gone further and let kids stay on their parents’ plans until at least age 30, including Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.</p></p><p><p>But California is now the first state to go the other direction by letting some adults join their kids’ health insurance plans.</p></p><p><p>Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, signed the law this week, but it won’t take effect until 2023.</p></p><p><p>“The signing of the Parent Healthcare Act will help more families care for their parents the way they cared for us,” Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara said.</p></p><p><p>To be eligible, adults must rely on their child for at least 50% of their total support.</p></p><p><p>The law applies only to people who buy their health insurance on the individual market.</p></p><p><p>Those who get insurance through their jobs, which includes most people in the state, aren’t eligible.</p></p><p><p>That makes the law much cheaper.</p></p><p><p>A previous version, which would have applied to more people, could have increased employer premiums between $200 million and $800 million per year, depending on how many people enrolled.</p></p><p><p>That prompted business groups, including the California Chamber of Commerce, to oppose the bill — winning key concessions.</p></p><p><p>This narrower version of the law ensures far fewer people can enroll.</p></p><p><p>The California Department of Insurance estimates just 15,000 adults will use this law, prompting an annual increase of between $12 million and $48 million per year for individual premiums, according to an analysis by the Senate Appropriations Committee.</p></p><p><p>The change was enough for the Chamber of Commerce to remove its opposition.</p></p><p><p>The law’s author, Democratic Assemblyman Miguel Santiago of Los Angeles, said it targets people who can’t get subsidized health insurance because they are living in the country illegally.</p></p><p><p>Covered California, the state’s health insurance marketplace, offers discount insurance plans — but only to citizens.</p></p><p><p>California’s Medicaid program offers government-funded insurance to people 50 and over and 25 and younger regardless of their immigration status.</p></p><p><p>But some adults might be ineligible because they make just over the income limits.</p></p><p><p>The University of California Berkeley Labor Center predicts more than 3 million people won’t have health insurance in California next year, 65% of them people who are living in the country illegally.</p></p><p><p>The law is “a way to close that gap,” Santiago said, while also helping other adults who “fall through the cracks.”</p></p><p><p>“We all talk about increasing health care access, and here was a real easy way to do it,” he said.</p></p>