Extended Health Care Coverage for Adult Children

Effective September 23, 2010, health insurance coverage was extended until your children reach age 26 years, under health insurance reform legislation.

The law applies if the parent's employer already provided dependent coverage. Extension of coverage includes children even if they are not in college, do not live at home and are not claimed as dependents on a parent's tax return. Coverage even includes married dependents, but not their spouses or children.

Coverage also allows children who are under age 26, but who were previously dropped from coverage, to re-enroll as long as they do not have access to their own employer-sponsored plan. If a company has a plan that offers dependent coverage, it must inform employees that their children who may have aged out are eligible again, starting January 1, 2011.

Insurance companies cannot increase the cost or limit coverage for the under 26 group, but parents may face an across-the-board increase in the cost of coverage for adding dependents to their plan.

When a child reaches the age where health insurance can no longer be offered, the parent should check into whether their employer offers COBRA coverage for dependents whose coverage has been terminated.

Knowing what coverage is available offers another cost containment option to all parents.