New California Law Lets Some Adults Add Parents Who Live in U.S. Illegally to Insurance

A new California law will allow some adults to add their parents who live in the U.S. illegally as dependents to their health insurance, the Associated Press reported.

The law's author, Assemblyman Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles), said it targets people living in the country illegally who cannot get subsidized health insurance.

The University of California Berkeley Labor Center estimated that 65 percent of the more than 3 million people in California who won't have insurance next year are living in the country illegally.

The law is "a way to close that gap," Santiago told AP, while also helping others who "fall through the cracks."

"We all talk about increasing health care access, and here was a real easy way to do it," he said.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Assemblyman Miguel Santiago
A new California law will allow some adults to add their parents who live in the U.S. illegally as dependents on their insurance. Above, Assemblyman Miguel Santiago questions state Auditor Elaine Howle about an audit during a hearing in Sacramento on August 12, 2019. Rich Pedroncelli/AP Photo

The trend nationally has been to let children linger on their parents' health insurance plans. Former President Barack Obama's health care law let children stay on their parents' plans until age 26. Some states have gone further and let kids stay on their parents' plans until at least age 30, including Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

But California is now the first state to go the other direction by letting some adults join their kids' health insurance plans. Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, signed the law this week, but it won't take effect until 2023.

"The signing of the Parent Healthcare Act will help more families care for their parents the way they cared for us," Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara said.

To be eligible, adults must rely on their child for at least 50 percent of their total support. The law applies only to people who buy their health insurance on the individual market. Those who get insurance through their jobs, which includes most people in the state, aren't eligible.

This narrower version of the law ensures far fewer people can enroll. The California Department of Insurance estimates just 15,000 adults will use this law, prompting an annual increase of between $12 million and $48 million per year for individual premiums, according to an analysis by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The change was enough for the Chamber of Commerce to remove its opposition.

Covered California, the state's health insurance marketplace, offers discount insurance plans—but only to citizens. California's Medicaid program offers government-funded insurance to people 50 and over and 25 and younger regardless of their immigration status. But some adults might be ineligible because they make just over the income limits.

Health Insurance
A new California law will allow some adults to add their parents who live in the U.S. illegally as dependents on their insurance. Above, Senator Elizabeth Warren speaks about Medicare expansion and the reconciliation package during a press conference with fellow lawmakers at the U.S. Capitol on September 23, 2021, in Washington, D.C. Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images