Three of the nation’s top health insurance carriers – Wellpoint, United Healthcare, and Humana – have announced that they will automatically keep young adults under the age of 26 on their parents’ policies between now and September 23, when the health care reform legislation guarantees this option for all everyone under the age of 26.
For students who are graduating in May and June, this will be a huge help. Technically, under the new law, graduating students in a lot of states could still have been dropped from their parents’ policies upon graduation, and would have had to find their own health insurance or go uninsured until September.
The health insurance companies are still collecting premiums for these young adults, via their parents’ policies. But for families with group health insurance who have more than one child, the premiums are likely the same regardless of how many children are on the policy. So a family with younger children who continues to keep an older child on their policy until age 26 is essentially getting “free” health insurance for that older child, since they would be paying the family premiums anyway, in order to insure their younger children. In addition, continuation of family coverage is an excellent option for young adults with pre-existing conditions. If they are not able to secure jobs that offer group health insurance benefits, they would have to apply for individual health insurance, and the pre-existing conditions would continue to be an issue until 2014.
Wellpoint, which operates Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield here in Colorado, Humana, and United Healthcare are three of our most popular health insurance carriers, and we’re glad to see them stepping up and going beyond the letter of the law. Hopefully other health insurance carriers will follow suit and as many young adults as possible will be able to remain covered on their parents’ policies this summer.