Recently, several states have passed laws increasing the age that children can stay on their parents’ health insurance policy. The reasoning behind the change is sound: these days, it’s not as easy to get a job with health benefits as it used to be, since fewer employers offer coverage to employees. So allowing young adults to remain on their parents’ policies means they won’t have to worry about getting a job that provides health insurance benefits right away. I understand that the intention behind these laws is good, but I question the message that such laws send to the under-30 crowd (some states have put the upper age at 30 for a ‘child’ to be covered on a parent’s plan). I think that we need to be teaching our children that health insurance is a necessity; something they always need to have, and that budgeting for it should be a priority. If parents are still covering their 29-year-old kids, there is no requirement for responsibility on the part of the ‘kids.’ People need to understand that health insurance – even if it’s not provided by an employer – needs to be further up the priority list than a ski pass or dinners out. I know that extending the amount of time parent can keep their children on their policies may help solve the short-term problem of uninsured twenty-somethings. But what happens when those twenty-somethings become thirty-somethings? All of a sudden, they’ve never had to budget for health insurance, and may not even realize its importance. I think a better solution is to make health insurance mandatory – just like auto insurance in most states – and require proof of coverage in order to get or renew a driver’s license. Mooching off the parents doesn’t seem like much of a long-term solution.