Are your children covered adequately under your medical insurance plan? It's a good idea to check your insurance policy to see at what age your children are no longer covered. A great many are dropped at age 19, while some are covered on through 23 or 25, if they're still your dependents.
Of course, if a young person in college is dropped from the family medical plan, it's fairly simple to enroll in the college's own inexpensive group plan.
As a matter of fact, its's so simple to enroll in a college or university group' medical plan that when all the papers come from the school for signatures and payments some parents unwittingly buy the medical coverage, not realizing their son or daughter is already covered under the family group plan. They pay twice (or once, if the family plan is covered by an employer), but they don't get any extra benefits.
When a student goes to work and he or she is not covered by the family plan, he or she might be able to sign up for a plan offered by the employer. Again, check your own coverage to make sure you've not paying double or extra when a child is covered at work.
It's also good to know if your insurance company will provide individual coverage (at added expense) when your child loses the protection of the family group plan and cannot get other group coverage. This can be important if your child developed some illness that would make it difficult or impossible to get coverage elsewhere.
A number of policies will permit rolling over into individual coverage for children, without a waiting period or penalty because of pre-existing illness. Find out where you stand on this issue.
Ben Lipson, a specialist who helps people who have difficulty getting coverage, surveyed insurance coverage for young people in Massachusetts and found that 40,000 young people, ages 19 to 24, were not covered by medical plans because they had been dropped from family policies. Lipson says on a national scale probably millions of young people are not covered by medical plans for the same reason.
His survey also showed that few, if an, insurers give any formal notice when a young person is going to be dropped from a policy because of age.
Once you're dropped, you have around 30 days to get yourself covered elsewhere or, if you qualify, to roll over into an individual policy. But if you don't know you're going to be dropped, how can you get other insurance in time?
If you miss the 30-day deadline and your child has a pre-existing illness, you're chances of getting new coverage for him are nil. Even if you can get an individual policy with the same insurer, you're going to get less coverage at a much higher price.
Lipson feels insurance companies ought to send notices to families when an insured child is nearing the deadline for coverage.
Until this better treatment of young people comes along, however, you'll have to take the responsibility for examining your medical coverage and marking your children's age deadlines on the calendar.