It used to be that kids were removed from their parents' health care insurance once they turned age 19. Coverage could be extended until age 23 if the child was a full time college student, but by the time most students graduated from college they found themselves without coverage unless they had a job with benefits.
However, a recent change announced by the White House now allows adult children to remain on their parents' plan until they are age 26. Under the new rules, insurance plans must offer coverage for plan participant's children up to the age of 26 and there is no requirement that the child has to live with their parents or attend college or even be a dependent -- they can even be married and still qualify for coverage. The only people who wouldn't be eligible for coverage would be those who work at a job where health care insurance is available. In that circumstance, the adult child would be expected to obtain coverage through their employer. In total, this change is expected to result in 1.2 million people gaining access to coverage.
So, who will bear the cost of this important coverage? All participants who currently have family insurance plans. Estimates vary, but the cost for family plans are expected to rise by about 1 percent.
Technically, this change applies only to new plans that begin after September 23rd of this year, but many insurance companies have voluntarily agreed to provide coverage right away (and not wait until September or January 2011 when plans typically renew their coverage).
Plans must provide a 30 day window for the adult children to enroll in their parents' plan so if you want to add your children to your policy, be sure to keep your eyes open for the opportunity. If you aren't sure whether your current plan covers adult children immediately or imposes some restrictions, check with your benefits department or plan administrator.
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