Federal Health Reforms Now Enabling Many New College Graduates To Stay On Parents' Policies

Other Options Also Available for Covering Young Adults

NEW YORK, NY (06/27/2011)(readMedia)-- Many new college graduates are now finding it easier to maintain their health insurance coverage compared to earlier generations of young adults.

Thanks to Federal health care reforms, young adults are now able to stay on their parents' group health insurance plans up to the age of 26. Previously, insurers could remove children from their parents' policies because of a child's age or status as a student.

"The Federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires plans which offer dependent coverage to make that coverage available until a child reaches the age of 26. Many parents and their children who worried about losing health insurance after they graduated from college no longer have to worry," Insurance Superintendent James Wrynn said.

Under the ACA, young adults are now able to join or remain on their parents' group policies whether or not the young adults are married, living with their parents, attending school or are financially dependent on their parents.

"Coverage should be automatic for a young adult already insured under his or her parents' family plan, but it is still a good idea to check with the plan's administrator to make sure that happens," Wrynn said.

There is no additional cost to the parents to continue insuring a young adult, provided the parents are already enrolled in a family group plan.

The Federal law does not apply to young adults older than 26, but New York State does ensure that coverage is available to young adults until their 30th birthdays.

Under New York State law, insurers are required to allow unmarried children through 29 to be covered under a parent's group policy. The law applies regardless of a young adult's financial dependence on a parent. Employers are permitted to charge additional premiums for this coverage.

To be eligible, a young adult may not be insured or eligible for health insurance through his or her employer, must live in New York or within the insurance company's service area, or must work in New York. The young adult may not be already covered under Medicare.

Parents should contact their employer's benefits administrator to verify eligibility and other requirements. For example, the New York law applies only to fully-insured group polices and not self-funded plans offered by many large employers.

To enroll in age 29 dependent coverage, the plan's administrator must be notified in writing. Premiums for a young adult's coverage must be paid by the family and not the employer.

COBRA/state continuation coverage and two state-sponsored programs may be available to young adults not eligible for coverage under the ACA or New York age 29 dependent coverage laws.

Under COBRA/state continuation coverage, an individual may maintain coverage for up to 36 months, provided the individual pays up to 102 percent of the premium for coverage that has expired. Young adults should also consider HealthyNY, which provides reduced-cost coverage for individuals meeting eligibility requirements, or Family Health Plus, which provides free coverage to people meeting income and other eligibility requirements.

Additional information can be obtained on the Insurance Department's website, www.ins.state.ny.us, or by calling the Department's Consumer Services Bureau from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday toll-free at 800-342-3736.