Health Care Reform Ruling Means Young Adults Can Stay On Parents' Plans

The kids are alright.

As part of its landmark decision to uphold most of President Obama’s health care law, the Supreme Court kept a provision that allows adult children to stay on their parents’ health plans up until the age of 26. The court ruled Thursday that Obama’s individual mandate, which included the provision, was a constitutional use of Congress’ power to levy taxes.

The measure covering adult children, one of the most recognizable elements of Obama’s bill, would provide relief to young adults struggling to afford health insurance on their own. Since some parts of the health care law went into effect in 2010, the share of Americans aged 18 to 25 without health insurance dropped to 23 percent from 28 percent. That’s roughly 6.6 million with health insurance because of the law.

Parents worried about cost may have some concerns with the ruling. In the wake of the health care law's passage, many employers began raising workers’ payroll contributions on a “per participant” basis, instead of a more traditional single or family coverage plan, according to The New York Times.

Even with health insurance, paying medical expenses can put a strain on young people. More than 35 percent of Americans aged 19 to 29 with health insurance said they struggled to pay medical bills or were in debt because of health care-related expenses.

Still, given the weak job market, having an alternative to employer-sponsored health insurance provides breathing room to many young adults. Today, only around half of young adults aged 18 to 24 have jobs, according to a Pew research report from February.

That lack of jobs has pushed young adults to rely on their parents in other ways; the number of adult Americans living in a household with family members jumped 11 percent between 2007 and 2010, according to data from the Census Bureau.

Jerrold Nadler

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