Government Releases Regulations on Health Care Coverage for Employees' Adult Children

The Department of Health and Human Services on Monday issued regulations governing one imminent change in employer health care plans under the new health care reform law. The regulations cover the requirement that employers who offer coverage to the dependents of employees also offer it to employees' adult children up to age 26, regardless of whether the adult children are married, tax dependents, in school or living at home. The only exception is that employers with grandfathered plans--those in existence when health care reform became law in March--are not required to cover adult children who have access to health care insurance through their own employer until 2014. The requirement to cover all other adult children up to age 26 takes effect for the first plan year after Sept. 23.

The regulations essentially say that the adult children must be covered under the same terms that other dependents are covered. The Washington Post says this means that group health plans can charge employees extra to cover adult children only if they already base their premiums on the number of children the employee enrolls, as opposed to offering a flat premium for families of all sizes.

The Post quoted government figures showing that if the costs are spread across all families with employer-sponsored coverage, family premiums will rise about 1 percent in 2012.

Read the HHS news release here. And watch for the June InsideCounsel Cover Story examining the impact of the health care reform law on employers.

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Mary Swanton

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