Senators Call On Business Round Table to Support Covering Recent Graduates Early
Letter Implores Group to Implement Provision to Cover Children Through Age 26 Prior to September Deadline
Washington, D.C. – As millions of young adults graduating from college this month face one of the toughest job markets in history leading to a serious gap in their healthcare coverage, U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jack Reed (D- R.I.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Bob Casey (D- Pa.) sent a letter to the Business Round Table urging the organization to convince its members to voluntarily close that gap by adopting an important health care reform provision a few months earlier than planned.
Under the health reform law, starting September 2010, children under the age of 26 will be able to remain on their parents’ health insurance plan, eliminating the transition period during which graduates seeking jobs to provide their own health insurance coverage or young adults working at entry-level jobs that do not provide coverage go uninsured. That gap in coverage leaves these recent graduates and young adults dangerously exposed to catastrophic health costs in an emergency. Many insurers have already stepped up plans to implement this provision early.
“It seems remarkable in this instance that health insurers seem to be more willing to make changes to improve the health care system than employers,” the Senators wrote in the letter. “We write to ask you why employers, specifically your members, have not come to the table to quickly implement the young adult policy.”
Right now, 13.7 million people between the ages of 19 and 29 lack health coverage accounting for more than one-third of the entire uninsured population. The provision in the health reform legislation extending family coverage through the age of 26 will help to lower that number. Unfortunately, a recent survey of 661 businesses found that only 16 percent of members were open to implementing the provision early. The Senators believe that the urging of the Roundtable to support early implementation could go a long way in closing that gap before graduates can be affected.
“We believe that there could be a great benefit from you and your members’ willingness to act proactively to implement this crucial reform to our nation’s health care system,” the Senators wrote in the letter.
A copy of the letter is available here.
1717 Rhode Island Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20036
Dear Mr. Castellani:
At a time when millions of young adults are entering a job market in which they not only cannot find jobs but also cannot find affordable health insurance, we are writing to urge the Business Roundtable members to help address this growing problem by voluntarily allowing working families to cover their adult children with their parents’ health insurance. While employers will be legally required to do this starting in September 2010, this will leave many graduating students and others without any health coverage for at least several months. We urge the Business Roundtable members to take action now to extend coverage to these young adults, rather than waiting until legally required to provide this coverage.
Taking this action now offers much-needed relief to families. Allowing adult children to stay on their parents’ policies until the age of 26 will open new doors for millions of people who would otherwise be uninsured. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, about 13.7 million people ages 19 to 29 years old lack insurance, accounting for almost a third of the overall uninsured population.
As the Department of Health and Human Services has sought to implement this provision of the health reform law, over 60 insurance companies have voluntarily agreed to comply before the September 23, 2010 deadline. And yet among 661 employers responding to a survey by Towers Watson & Co., 16% said they would extend the coverage before the required effective date, 78% said they would wait until the effective date and 6% did not yet know.
It seems remarkable in this instance that health insurers seem to be more willing to make changes to improve the health care system than employers. We write to ask you why employers, specifically your members, have not come to the table to quickly implement the young adult policy.
At this time of year, our nation’s college seniors are graduating and entering a job market that is in the midst of recovering from a devastating recession. If a recent college graduate is lucky enough to find a job, he or she is likely to have an entry-level position. For this reason, he or she is unlikely to have access to the comprehensive insurance plans that many of your members provide. Further, providing this coverage to young adults is affordable for both workers and employers. An analysis by the Department of Health and Human Services estimates that adding 1.2 million of these young adults to their parents’ policies will raise premiums less than 1%.
On behalf of the millions of young adults who would benefit greatly from the security of health insurance following their college graduations, we urge a rapid response to this request. We believe that there could be a great benefit from your and your members’ willingness to act proactively to implement this crucial reform to our nation’s health care system. A recent Business Roundtable press release about the organization’s efforts to reform the health system stated, “Our CEO’s passion for affordable, quality health care for all Americans was at the heart of this campaign…” We believe it is time to transform those words into action.