Panel OKs Heath Coverage Extension for Ill Students

By Staff Report

Jul. 21, 2008

Legislation approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on July 16 would allow seriously ill college students to continue coverage under their parents’ health insurance plans even if they can’t maintain status as full-time students.

The measure, H.R. 2851, approved on a 40-0 vote, would allow college students to retain coverage for up to 12 months after they take a leave of absence. Coverage would continue on the same basis as prior to the student going on leave.

The legislation is modeled after a 2006 New Hampshire law known as “Michelle’s Law.” The New Hampshire law was named for Michelle Morse, a Manchester, New Hampshire, college student who continued her studies while battling cancer so that she could maintain health insurance coverage. Morse died in 2005.

Unlike the New Hampshire law, which only applies to fully insured policies offered by commercial insurers and health maintenance organizations because of federal pre-emption of state laws that relate to employee benefit plans, the federal legislation would apply to both insured and self-insured plans.

Filed by Jerry Geisel of Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail

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