Friday, April 22, 2011

Parents take note- HHS is educating your kids on their health coverage rights

It's common knowledge that many employers and insurers are concerned upcoming Affordable Care Act (ACA) deadlines, but some parents out there might be getting a little nervous, too. Those moms and dads who weren't planning to cover health insurance costs for their kids, perhaps because of the extra cost, may feel that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is breathing down their necks a bit.

This is because the website has a message for the nation's teenagers and young adults, advising them that they can be covered on their parents' insurance until age 26. It also has a link to a Facebook site, at The Facebook site advises students, both in writing and through a video by Kalpen Modi of the White House Office of Public Engagement to ask their parents what their insurance company is, and to call the insurer to ask what their parents have to do to get them coverage. They are then advised to follow up with their parents.

Moms and dads may as well get used to the idea of paying for their kids' insurance, though, because, although coverage for dependents isn't mandatory at the moment, starting in 2014, parents will be required by law to cover their dependents on their health insurance, or pay a penalty. Code Sec. 5000A, as added by the ACA, will mandates payment of the greater of a flat dollar amount or an applicable percentage of income by parents who fail to obtain coverage for dependents, unless their plan has grandfather status and the dependents have coverage available from their employer. The amounts will increase in 2015.

And, to make sure that the nation's young people are thoroughly educated about their right to coverage, a special, rather chatty message on the site, posted by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, states that letters have been sent to university and student body presidents detailing how the ACA can enable students to obtain coverage under their parents' plans. The message starts off, "If you’re a student, getting to your 8:00am biology class on time is difficult. Or maybe it is hard for you to focus in your 3:00pm French literature class. You have to make time to do laundry and study for finals. And don’t you dare forget to call your Mom! .... As students, you have enough on your minds without having to worry about health insurance coverage."

 It goes on to say that the HHS, along with the Department of Education, is going to help student groups host informational sessions on insurance options. Flyers outlining benefits available under the ACA  are downloadable at, and a "badge" which states "Under 26? You may be eligible for health coverage under your parent's plan. Learn How." can be downloaded from

The information is bound to be welcomed by many student groups, however. Sebelius does point out that young adults comprise one of the largest groups of uninsured Americans, and that they are almost twice as likely to be uninsured as older adults, meaning that many students were left with the choice of either finding a job with health insurance, or completing a higher education without insurance coverage.

For more information. For a comprehensive analysis of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and additional information on health reform and other developments in employee benefits, just click here.


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