Children are generally dropped from their parents' health insurance when they turn 18 or 19 or graduate from college. But 16 states now require insurers to cover dependent children on their parents' policies until the kids are in their mid-20s and sometimes up to age 30.
The new rules can help cover adult children who don't have health insurance through their jobs or don't have jobs. To qualify, grown kids must be unmarried and live in the same state as their parents. But they don't need to live with their parents or even be considered dependents for tax purposes.
This can be an attractive option for adult children who have health problems and could have trouble qualifying for affordable insurance on their own. But other young adults might be better off declining the deal.
In many states, healthy people in their 20s can purchase insurance on their own for less than $100 per month (go to www.ehealthinsurance.com or find an insurance agent through www.nahu.org). That could be less than the cost of keeping a child on your family policy. And your rate may even drop if, by removing your child, you can switch from family coverage to rates for a single person or a couple.
If, however, you already have other children on your policy, your best bet may be to include an older kid, as long as your insurer doesn't base premiums on the number of children covered.For a list of each state's age requirements for dependent coverage, see the National Conference of State Legislatures' Web site, www.ncsl.org. Note that these laws don't apply to employers who self-insure.
Kimberly Lankford is a contributing editor to Kiplinger's Personal Finance magazine. Send your questions and comments to [email protected].