Another Signal that Healthcare Costs Are Too High

Wednesday, March 29th, 2006
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

In another example that healthcare costs are too high, six states, including Colorado, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Dakota, Texas and Utah now require insurers to cover workers’ dependent children into their twenties, in most cases even if they are no longer full-time students.

The latest state to pass such a law is my home state, New Jersey, which now covers “children” through age 30.

The rationale behind these state actions is to address the high uninsured rate among this age group. A 2004 report by the Institute of Medicine found that approximately one in three young adults lack health insurance, compared to one in six Americans overall. Nineteen to 24 year olds (34.9%) are most at risk among all ages of being uninsured.

While I applaud these state legislators for taking action to address this historically uninsured population, maybe the better answer is to control the costs of healthcare plans, as opposed to another mandate on coverage requirements.

What if health plans offered a no-frills package with some basic coverage to meet the needs of this population; or how about a state program like the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides low-cost health insurance for families and children.

Employers who are bearing most of the brunt of healthcare costs increases will now be faced with another increase – covering children into 30s. There just has to be some other answer than putting more onus on employers, because ultimately it will the employees and their “children” that suffer.

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