Does federal law on dependents supersede Pennsylvania law?

Does the federal law on dependents supersede the Pennsylvania law? (

Question: In 2009, there was a Pennsylvania law passed which allowed dependent a living in Pennsylvania to stay on their parents' plan until age 30. Does the federal law supersede this?

- Marlene

Answer: The Pennsylvania law allowing dependent children to remain on their parents’ employment coverage up to age 30 remains in place. It is not superseded by the federal health reform law, which guarantees coverage only up to age 26. However, the Pennsylvania law contains a significant limitation. Unlike the federal law, which requires employers to continue coverage, the Pennsylvania law merely permits them to do so. Therefore, to find out if a dependent would be covered, you have to check with the applicable employer.

If the employer has chosen to extend eligibility to age 30, several conditions apply. The child must be unmarried, have no dependents of his or her own, be a resident of Pennsylvania or a full-time student, and be ineligible for other private or government coverage. For more information on the federal law’s provisions on dependent coverage for young adults click here. For more information on the Pennsylvania law, click here.


Robert I. Field, Ph.D., J.D., M.P.H. is a professor of law at the Earle Mack School of Law and professor of health management and policy at the School of Public Health at Drexel University. He also writes for The Field Clinic blog. Ask Rob your questions about the new healthcare law.