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September 12, 2008

Governor Blagojevich approves legislation to allow parents to keep dependents on their healthcare policies
Governor’s amendatory veto to allow parents to keep dependents on their health insurance until the dependent’s 26th birthday; active duty or veteran dependents can stay on until their 30th birthday

CHICAGO – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich took action today to certify the improvements he made to House Bill 5285. With this action the bill becomes law, and parents will now be able to extend their dependents’ coverage until their 26th birthday; and up to age 30 for veterans. This action follows the General Assembly’s bi-partisan vote to accept the Governor’s amendatory veto to improve this bill.
Over 300,000 Illinoisans between the ages of 19-25 are uninsured – many of whom lack the means and opportunity to get affordable health insurance coverage. Being able to stay on their parents’ or guardians’ health plans will allow thousands of young adults to keep or get access to more affordable coverage, get regular checkups and receive preventable care.
“Today I am pleased to say, that because the General Assembly accepted my improvements to House Bill 5285, more Illinoisans will have access to healthcare, and more families can have the peace of mind knowing their dependents have health insurance. Now 300,000 uninsured Illinoisans in their early twenties will have an opportunity to get coverage, which means they won’t have to worry about a catastrophic accident putting them into debt. If a young person has diabetes or another chronic illness, they won’t have to worry about how to cover their everyday care,” said Governor Blagojevich.
There are approximately 1.4 million people between the ages of 19-25 in Illinois. When individuals don’t have insurance, they are less likely to get annual doctor’s visits and more likely to rely on expensive emergency room visits for care. Missing a routine check up can cause people to miss important indicators of serious issues including cancer or diabetes.
“This law is a great example of what can happen when our leaders in Springfield work together to provide meaningful support for Illinois' families.  I was proud to sponsor this bill in the Senate and look forward to more young people receiving the health care coverage that they need,” said Senator Dan Kotowski (D - Mt. Prospect).
Twenty states have enacted some dependent coverage expansion to allow dependents to stay on their parents’ or guardians’ policies into their mid-twenties. With the Governor's action, Illinois will have the second strongest law in the nation with regard to expanded dependent coverage. Illinois does not currently have an age requirement for dependent coverage. Instead, insurers define dependent on a policy to policy basis, which most often means that parents don’t even have the choice to extend this coverage to their loved ones, despite their desire to do so. 
“For many young Illinoisans just out of high school, they are still figuring out the next step, whether that is college or the workforce. That uncertain time will be a little less tenuous now that dependents in their twenties will have the ability to stay on their parents’ heath care coverage. I thank the Governor for his improvements to this legislation and am pleased to return the accepted legislation to him for his certification,” said Senator Ricky Hendon (D-Chicago).
Families will have a three-month period once their policy is renewed after this legislation becomes effective (June 1st, 2009) to add their dependent onto their policy. For every year thereafter, parents will be able to enroll their dependents during their policies’ regular open enrollment period.
Illinois veterans who are still considered dependents will benefit from this new as well because they will be able to stay on their parents’ insurance until their 30th birthday. Currently, all active duty national guardsmen or reservists have health insurance that ends six months after their leave of the military, unless they have a service-connected disability. After those six months are up, they need to find their own health coverage, which can be difficult for a person returning from military service, who may not yet have reliable employment.


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