One of most often asked questions on our HelpLine about the federal Affordable Care Act is related to the expansion of parents’ coverage for dependents up to age 26. HelpLine callers whose employers self-insure are eager to find out if the new provision, which takes effect on September 23rd of this year, will require their plans to cover their dependants up to age 26. We are pleased to tell them, “Yes, all plans in Massachusetts will now have to abide by this new requirement under health reform!”
Some Massachusetts insurance companies have even decided to offer this expanded coverage immediately. As of today, major carriers such as Blue Cross Blue Shield of MA, Fallon Community Health Plan, and Tufts Health Plan (if we missed another carrier in this list, please let us know in the comments), have answered Secretary Sebelius’ call for early implementation of insurance access for all dependents up to 26 years old. More information is in this White House fact sheet.
National health reform mandates that all health plans, no matter if they are self-insured or private, provide coverage for dependents up to age 26 through a family plan. This is better than the provision in the Massachusetts chapter 58, which limited post-dependent coverage to 2 years.
Early implementation means that recent graduates from school who are aging out of family insurance before the new law kicks in can stay on their parent’s plan without any gaps in coverage. Hats off to the insurers that are taking the lead in health reform implementation by doing the right thing by implementing this provision early. We hope their initiative will trigger a wave of other companies to join in their leadership and create a smooth transition for all families.