Young adults can stay covered under their parents' insurance until age 26

Young adults can stay covered under their parents’ insurance until age 26

I bet you thought there was nothing special about September 23 (unless it’s your birthday—if so, happy birthday!). But today, more young people have access to health care.

As part of President Obama’s healthcare reform act, which will roll out changes from March 2010 until 2015 (see a timeline), young adults can now stay covered by their parents’ health insurance until age 26. (Previously, kids were cut off at age 18; or if full-time students, 23.)

While the age limit may not seem like a huge deal, the fact is that 20-somethings need all the help they can get to keep their health insurance.

Twenty-somethings have been among the hardest hit in the recession, reeling from an unemployment rate that’s nearly 50% higher than the rest of the population. “Free” health insurance is a big bonus if you’re a recent college grad whose job search is taking longer than expected, or if you’re a grad student already overwhelmed with student loans.

On top of that, adults age 19-29 account for about 13 million of the 47 million Americans living without health insurance—that is, nearly 30%. At first this might not seem so weird. After all, aren’t most 20-somethings healthy and strong? Well, yes, but accidents happen. Recently I heard about a young woman who flew over her handlebars while riding her bike across the Brooklyn Bridge. Luckily she’ll be okay, but treating the injuries to her shoulder and wrist could cost her thousands of dollars—because she has no health insurance. And unfortunately, this is more common than we like to think.

For those eligible, I urge you to take advantage of this new rule. Your insurance provider or employer should send you information about the 30-day enrollment period during which you can add your kids to your policy. With some insurance plans, the new rules might not actually kick in until January 2011—check with your provider. Let me know if you run into any obstacles, and I’ll try to help.  For more details on the health care reforms going into effect today, AARP has a terrific article explaining all the nitty-gritty.

Parents, are your adult children on your insurance? Kids, are you on your parents’ insurance?

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