State Health Plan should be open to dependents
As state employees enroll in the State Health Plan for 2011 federal reform will require that children be allowed to stay on a parent’s policy up to age 26 — even if that child is not a full time student.
The question during the General Assembly’s short session, which convenes Wednesday, is what to do with State Health Plan dependents now.
It would be silly to kick young people off of insurance coverage this year just to reenroll them next year. So at a minimum the legislature should allow dependents who age out of coverage to remain on the State Health Plan. The SHP estimates that allowing these children to stay in the plan would cost between $1 million and $3 million.
The State Health Plan could also open coverage early to all newly eligible dependents. There are children of state employees who have already aged out of coverage and can’t find affordable insurance elsewhere. These dependents will not be allowed into the State Health Plan until 2011 unless the General Assembly takes action.
If the legislature opens the State Health Plan to those eligible in 2011 it would cost between $3 million and $7 million, according to plan estimates.
The state should open the State Health Plan to all dependents as many insurance companies are currently allowing, especially since North Carolina does not subsidize dependent coverage. It’s unclear what assumptions were used by the State Health Plan to arrive at its cost estimate. There probably aren’t that many dependents that would join the plan and the SHP is assuming that medical costs for this relatively young group would exceed premiums collected. That seems unlikely.