Students Would Retain Health Insurance During Medical Leave

Armen Hareyan's picture
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A bipartisan group of lawmakers have introduced legislation (HR 2851 and S 400) that would allow college students to take as long as one year of medical leave for severe illnesses and continue to receive health insurance through the policies of their parents, USA Today reports. Under federal law, college students ages 19 to 24 can continue to receive health insurance through the policies of their parents, provided that they attend school full time.

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The legislation -- called Michelle's Law, in memory of Michelle Morse, who died from colon cancer in 2005 -- would amend the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and other federal laws. Reps. Paul Hodes (D-N.H.) and Mike Castle (R-Del.), co-sponsors of the House version of the bill, said that the legislation would have negligible cost because of the small number of college students affected.

Hodes said, "We're frankly correcting something that is illogical and irrational." Steven Weiss of the American Cancer Society added, "No one should have to jump through hoops that actually threaten their health in order to maintain their health insurance." However, Devon Herrick, a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, said that the legislation likely would "come with a cost" and could make health insurance unaffordable for others (Gaudiano, USA Today, 8/10).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report, search the archives. The Kaiser Weekly Health Disparities Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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