One component of the newly enacted health care reform legislation allows children to stay on their parents' health-insurance plans up to age 26. I just found an article entitled "New Healthcare Legislation and Young Adults" that provides a very thorough overview of what the new law may mean for families with emerging-adult children. The following paragraph is rich with information:
One provision of reform that went into effect immediately after passage was the continuation of coverage under a parent's plan for any young adults under 26 who were not offered coverage by an employer. However, this may not be as good as it sounds. It appears that instead of being included in the employee/child rate or the family rate, they will be charged at the rate for an adult individual. This could add considerably to the cost of a parent's plan, especially if they have more than one needy child in that category, and it seems doubtful employers would fund the entire cost. Relatively healthy young people may find private insurance purchased on the open market a better deal or still the best they can afford.
Another article (from before the ultimate resolution of the legislation whereby the U.S. House passed the Senate version) provides further background, including an assessment of how young adults' health-insurance coverage appeared to be affected by earlier bills at the state level. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) is quoted to the effect that the new rule on retaining young-adult children on parents' policies:
"is an addition of several years of protection—peace of mind—while a young person goes about finding a job, starting a career and starting a family."
The backdrop for the new provision, of course, is that the median ages of starting jobs/careers and starting a family have gone up in recent decades.