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The ACA for my college age kids

It’s routine now to hear high school seniors meandering in the hallways of their schools discussing what they are doing next year. College? Gap year? Other plans? On college campuses around the country students are planning for their graduations and their futures: Job? Graduate School? Don’t know yet?

If you have children that fall into one of these categories, there is another issue that will weigh on your mind: health insurance. The Young Invincibles, as they are sometimes known, aren’t so concerned about health insurance. But parents are, and with 2014 the year of the implementation of many of the Affordable Care Act  (ACA) provisions, should revisit the options available to both of the demographics.

Is your soon-to-be college freshman covered by your employer sponsored health insurance? That is most often the case with dependent children, even once they are planning to go to college. One of the first provisions of the ACA , effective in 2010, extended coverage to adult children through age 26. Now, with a child entering college, it makes sense to explore the health insurance that is offered by the college or university. It most often gives a student coverage that stays with them year round, on or off campus. The policies provide the benefits of a large group plan usually at a reasonable cost. Also, in 2014, with the establishment of state health insurance exchanges, you may find that an exchange plan would be an attractive alternative for your college bound student.

What are the options for your college grad with health reform in mind? If your grad is returning to live at home and employer based health insurance isn’t an option, until age 26, a student can return to a parent’s employer sponsored plan regardless of whether this coverage was used in college. As long as the parent remains employed and the employer sponsors the coverage, young adults can reestablish participation in the plan. If adult children have not been on the plan, however, their addition will raise the premium costs.

If your young adult becomes employed at an employer who is offering  a health benefit, the individual can enroll in that coverage even if he or she chooses to live with parents. Beginning in 2014, a young adult can also shop for coverage at a state health insurance exchange. The state exchanges now offer “catastrophic ” coverage for individuals who are under age 30, in good health. These plans usually have lower monthly premiums, but higher deductibles. Catastrophic plans are an affordable way for a young adult to protect him or herself from the high cost of an accident or serious illness.

Don’t let your child go away for the first time or graduate from college without a serious look at their health care coverage.

For additional information, contact EAB HealthWorks.