Young Adults Will Soon Be Able To Remain on Parents' Health Plans

Help is available for families of children with special needs whose private health insurance will no longer cover children once they reach a certain age. The new federal health insurance law requires many private insurers to allow children to remain on their parents' health insurance plans until they are 26 years old.

Families of children with special needs who have private health insurance, typically through work, face a dilemma when their child gets older. Under many private health insurance plans, coverage for children ends once the child reaches a certain age -- typically 21, depending on state law. Although some private insurance plans allow parents of a child with disabilities to continue coverage well into the child's adult years, many plans terminate coverage regardless of the child's disability status. At that point, parents must obtain alternate health insurance for their child, often through Medicaid or some other state or federal program.

There is some good news for families who find themselves in this position. As part of this year's healthcare reform law, many private insurers must allow children to remain on their parents' health insurance plans as dependent family members until they are 26 years old. While some states may require insurance plans to extend coverage even further than this, the new law makes sure that all children will have access to their parents' insurance until at least age 26.

Unlike many provisions of the new law that do not go into effect until 2014, the age limit requirement begins to take effect in October 2010 and must be completely in effect as of the new year. Although the law applies to many types of employer-provided group health insurance, it does not apply to state-sponsored plans or ERISA plans. However, for a majority of families who receive health insurance through their employers, the new law adds several years of certainly to what was previously an unclear future for their children with special needs.

Article Last Modified: 08/20/2010