Bills to Extend Health Insurance Coverage To Young Adults Introduced in House, Senate

May 14, 2010

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The children of postal workers enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) would retain health insurance coverage up to age 26 beginning this year, under legislation introduced this month by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). Currently, dependents are covered only until age 22.

The bills (S. 3341) and (H.R. 5200) would accelerate the timetable for implementing an important feature of the healthcare reform legislation that was signed into law by President Barack Obama earlier this year. It would give the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) the authority to implement the change immediately.

The legislation is necessary, Sen. Cardin said, because current law prevents the Office of Personnel Management from raising the age limit from 22 to 26 for FEHBP dependents until January 2011, at the conclusion of the next Open Season.

“Enabling children of insured parents to stay on their policies until age 26 is an immediate benefit that will begin now to improve our health care system by increasing the number of people with affordable coverage right away,” Cardin said.

Rep. Van Hollen said, the legislation would “provide emotional and financial relief for families in the often uneasy transition period from high school and college to the working world.”

Approximately 8 million people – including federal employees, retirees, and others – are currently covered by the FEHBP. Permitting federal employees to benefit from the new law now will “save families money, get more young adults insured, and bring greater efficiencies to our health care sooner, all at no cost to the Federal budget,” Cardin said.

Co-sponsoring the House bill were: Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper (D-PA), and Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA).

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