Young People Could Fall Through Cracks in Health Care Reform

Filed under: In The News

In your early 20s and worried about losing medical coverage? Maybe you should be. Credit: Getty Images

Under federal health care reform, young people can stay on their parents' medical insurance until age 26.


Well, you may want to cool your jets. If you just graduated from college and are counting on Mom and Dad's health insurance to keep you covered until you get a job with benefits, sorry kid.

The Washington Post reports that insurance companies don't have to follow the new rule until a policy's first renewal date after Sept. 23. For some policies, that comes as soon as October.

Depending on your renewal date, however, you may have to wait until January -- or even May.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius called on insurance companies to be good eggs and comply with the law early. More than 60 major insurance companies said OK.

That might help. Some. But parents still need to be working for employers who are willing to play ball.

As the Post reports, bosses who contribute a share of the premium to cover a new graduate might not be keen on paying that extra, unanticipated expense.

Most workers with health coverage are employed by large companies that self-insure, the Post reports. That means the employer essentially acts like an insurance company. In other words, you better hope Mom or Dad has a nice boss.

The Post reports most new grads will not get back on their folks' health insurance any sooner than the new law requires.

The newspaper cites a study by Mercer, a benefits consulting firm, that surveyed 800 large and small companies last month and found 76 percent them were "not very" or "not at all" likely to comply early.

Among the uncooperative companies is the Defense Department. Almost 10 million active and retired service members and their families receive benefits through TRICARE.

The new rules don't apply to them.

Bruce Bramblet, a retired helicopter instructor for the Army who now works for Boeing in Seattle, tells the Post his son lost medical coverage last month after turning 21.

His son can get coverage through Boeing, but it's far less comprehensive than the military plan.

"I'm more than disappointed," Bramblet tells the Post. "I'm ticked off."

He says his son has had the same family doctors for 10 years.

"And now all of a sudden it's, 'You're out the door.' It was very confusing," he tells the newspaper.

Other families could be in for rude surprises, as well.

The Post reports roughly half of employer-based insurance plans charge a blanket family rate regardless of how many children are included on the plan.

Now, according to the paper, one in five insurance companies may start charging on a per-child basis.

Related: New York Moves to Require Insurance Companies to Cover Autism

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.