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Health Coverage for a New College Graduate

Q. Will I be able to keep my son on my health insurance plan after he graduates from college this summer? He’s 22.

A. Most likely. A new rule that lets young people stay on their parents’ health plan until they reach age 26 officially takes effect Sept. 23, six months after President Obama signed the health care reform bill into law. As long as a parent’s health plan offers dependent coverage, young adults can remain on it regardless of their living situation, financial resources, student status or prior health-insurance status.

However, there is a caveat. Although the new requirement begins on Sept. 23, it applies only at the beginning of a new or renewed plan, not during the plan’s coverage year. So students who graduate this summer or reach their family plans’ age limit can lose their family coverage until the plan is renewed.

Insurance companies have the option of eliminating the gap and continuing coverage for the adult child on the family plan, and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is encouraging insurers to do that instead of waiting until September.

UnitedHealthcare, Kaiser Permanente, Humana, WellPoint and Blue Cross Blue Shield are among more than 60 plans that have voluntarily agreed to allow young adults to keep their family plan coverage.

Check with your insurer for more details.

Carole Fleck is a senior editor at the AARP Bulletin.

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