Legislation would keep kids in FEHBP longer

Democratic leaders announced on Tuesday that the final House health care reform package will include a provision requiring all insurance plans -- including the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program -- to cover dependents up to age 27.

FEHBP currently covers unmarried dependent children up to age 22.

Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said in a statement that the provision would "positively impact" millions of young people who are uninsured after they turn 22. "At that point, many of them are just entering the job market and are faced with the prospect of a workplace position which fails to provide health insurance or earnings which don't support their ability to purchase it."

Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper, D-Pa., announced the provision on Tuesday during a press conference with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. The provision is based on the Young Adult Health Care Coverage Act (H.R. 2831) that Dahlkemper introduced earlier this year, which requires health insurers to cover dependent children up to age 30.

"There is a clear and urgent need to provide health insurance coverage to our young adults," Dahlkemper said, noting that 31 percent of those between the ages of 19 and 29 do not have insurance -- the highest uninsured age group in the country.

Another bill, also introduced earlier this year, would raise the age limit specifically for FEHBP coverage to 25. It is currently before the House Oversight and Government Reform's federal workforce subcommittee.

NTEU said many states have similar laws requiring health care plans to cover care for dependents, with age limits ranging from 21 to 30.

The full health care reform bill, which incorporates three different versions approved by three House committees, has not been released yet by the House leadership.

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