1. Health

What Do Parents and Young Adults Need to Know about Healthcare Reform?

Part II of Provisions from the Affordable Care Act


Updated May 13, 2010

Q. My 24-year-old has a job with an employer who offers coverage, but it's very expensive for him to pay the premiums. Can I put him back on my coverage instead?

A. For now, the answer will be based on when your plan was implemented, and whether your child has another option for coverage, such as through his own employer. If your plan is an excluded one (check the White House fact sheet) or if your child works for an employer who offers coverage, then no, he cannot be put on your policy. However, beginning on or after January 1, 2014, even adult children who have the option of using their employer's insurance may choose instead to be included in their family's plan.

Q. I have an individual policy that doesn't allow for any dependents. Does my insurer have to extend coverage to my adult child?

A. There is no provision in federal law for extending coverage to a young adult under an individual plan. Your best approach is to contact your insurer and ask about the best way to cover your dependent, knowing what the new law calls for.

Q. My 22-year-old is married. Can we cover him on our plan?

A. Yes. Married children under the age of 26 may be covered.

Q. My child has a pre-existing condition and was dropped from our insurance a few years ago. Will she be able to be covered under my current plan?

A. The pre-existing condition is actually a less important part of this question than the "my current plan" part. If your plan fits the parameters described above, then her pre-existing condition will not affect your ability to pull her back under your family insurance umbrella. Whether or not your insurer is willing to include her before September 2010 is up to the insurer.

Q. My child has a pre-existing condition and we don't have insurance coverage. What are we supposed to do? How can we get insurance?

A. Across the United States, individual states are working on establishing high risk pool insurance and exchanges to help Americans find affordable coverage. During summer 2010, the US Department of Health and Human Services will launch a website to help those who need insurance search for policies that will help them and will be, hopefully, affordable, too.

Q. We know that come 2014, all Americans will be required to have coverage or they will be fined through taxes in lieu of coverage. Once we reach that point, who will be responsible for the fines if insurance is not procured? The under-26 adult? Or the parent who has not put the dependent on his or her health insurance policy?

A. According to Secretary Sebelius, that has not yet been determined.

Q. This seems to be a very positive step for covering young adults. Why does this aspect of the Affordable Care Act seem to take such precedence?

A. According to HHS and the White House, young adults are the age group least likely to be covered - up to 30%. Yet, one in six young adults suffers a chronic illness like diabetes or asthma. Nearly half report struggling to pay medical bills. Their financial stability is being threatened at the very point in their lives where they are trying to build a career and a foundation.

To address that inequity, and realizing that family policies are in place and possibly available for so many of these young adults, authorities realized that providing that protection early in the implementation of the Act was a very positive step toward improving access to healthcare in the United States.


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