Health Reform Dependents Clause May Backfire

The provision in the health reform bill that guarantees coverage for young family members who are 26-and-under doesn’t kick in until Sept. 23. In the meantime, insurers are free to “kick” young family members off their parents' health insurance plans. It’s all about eligibility versus ineligibility right now, and only now are some insurers coming down off the fence and deciding to “voluntarily” add young family dependents before they actually have to.

Some details first. The Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as health care reform, allows for most U.S. children and young adults under the age of 26 to be covered for health insurance under their parents’ policies (providing they don’t receive health insurance from their employer).

According to White House figures, about one in three people age 19-34 actually have health insurance. Furthermore, only 53% of young adults are offered health insurance through their jobs.

Right now, young adults 18-and-over can only get on their parents’ health plan if they are full-time students and are under the age of 23.

But that doesn’t mean insurance companies have to give health care to young adults before they have to — and that isn’t until late September. In the meantime, college graduates shifting from private health care plans they got through their schools and universities aren’t guaranteed coverage once they depart their alma mater. The Obama administration, particularly the Office of Health and Human Services, has been lobbying health care issuers to “bridge” that four-month gap between college health insurance and the Affordable Care Act coverage that begins in September.

Those lobbying efforts finally look like they’re paying off. Companies like Blue Cross, Blue Shield, Humana (Stock Quote: HUM), Kaiser Permanente, WellPoint (Stock Quote: WLP) and United Health Care (Stock Quote: UNH) all will now offer early admittance to plan coverage as spelled out in the health reform legislation.

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