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Health Reform Brief: Expanding Dependent Coverage

Welcome to Champaign County Health Care Consumers (CCHCC) first Health Reform Brief, focusing on the national health reform provision that allows parents to add their children, up to age 26, to their health insurance plans.

Our goal with these Health Reform Briefs is to provide you with timely, concise, and accurate information on a particular topic, along with helpful web-based references on that particular topic.

Before getting into the brief, please remember that CCHCC will be holding a Community Meeting on National Health Reform on Wednesday, May
26 at 6 p.m. at the Champaign Public Library. At this meeting, we will be providing very concrete information to consumers about the health reform law and what it means to you, depending on what your situation is. To learn more about this meeting, or to RSVP to attend the meeting, please go to:

Community Meeting on Health Reform

HEALTH REFORM BRIEF: EXPANDING DEPENDENT COVERAGE One of the important provisions of the national health reform law that is being implemented now is the extension of dependent health coverage for children, up to age 26, by allowing parents to add the children onto their health insurance plans.

Here is what you need to know about this:
– This provision is scheduled to start on September 23, 2010.

– However, the Secretary of HHS, Kathleen Sebelius, obtained a commitment from the country’s largest health insurance companies to start implementation of dependent coverage in May 2010. This will allow students graduating from college in late spring to avoid a gap in coverage.

*** Health plans that offer dependent coverage must offer health insurance to enrollees’ adult children until age 26, even if the adult children no longer live with their parents, are not dependents on their parent’s tax return, or are no longer students. This rule applies to both married and unmarried children, although their spouses and children do not qualify for coverage.***

– To avoid gaps in coverage, insurers must give young adults who qualify an opportunity to enroll in their parents’ health plan that continues for at least 30 days even if the health plan offers a regular open enrollment period sometime else during the year.

– The dependent coverage provision DOES apply to self-insured plans.
Illinois passed a dependent coverage law to expand coverage to children up to 26 years of age. However, before national health reform was passed, self-insured health plans were not subject to the state law, and most chose not to follow the state law. But now, under national health reform, they must follow the law and provide this dependent coverage.

For more information, please visit the Kaiser Family Foundation’s website on health reform, and download their brief on Explaining Health Care Reform: Questions About the Extension of Dependent Coverage to Age 26:


I hope this Brief is helpful.

As always, thank you for activism and your involvement.


Claudia Lennhoff, Executive Director
Champaign County Health Care Consumers

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