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Young adults living at home soon eligible for health insurance

Thousands of young adults who still live with mom and dad will get health insurance again.

The new state budget signed by Gov. Jim Doyle requires health insurers to cover dependents 26 and younger, starting next February.

The limit is now 18, but college students can sometimes stay under their parents' health plans until they're 24.

Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma, pushed for the change, which quietly made it through the Legislature.

Vinehout says adult children are among the most likely to be uninsured, because their employers don't cover them or they're in school longer than most policies will cover them.

The new state law does not cover young adults who are married, or can get insurance at work.

But it does cover full-time students at any age if their education was interrupted by National Guard call-ups when they were 26 or younger.

State officials say it will cost taxpayers an extra $10 million to cover public employees' families and local governments will pay around $1.8 million more. Officials say about 17 percent of Wisconsin's 19- to 26-year-olds are currently uninsured.