Medicare Eligible. Can My Adult Child Stay On My Work Insurance?

Kelley-Jensen2Author:  Kelley Filice Jensen

I am 64 years old.  I still work and have my health insurance through my job, but I am thinking about enrolling in Medicare around my 65th birthday, regardless of whether I retire or not.  If I do that, can my child stay on my work’s insurance plan?   He is 23 years old, and a full time student with a part time job that does not offer health insurance.  I am worried about what will happen to him if I go elect Medicare coverage.

The short answer is no.  Your child cannot stay on your work health plan if you are not enrolled in the plan.  This is very common situation as Health Care Reform  has expanded the age of dependents for health insurance purposes.

Prior to the new health insurance law, adult children were generally ineligible to stay on their parent’s plans beyond 19 years old, but Obamacare has changed the age to 26.  The effect of this change is that millions of young adults have been able to maintain health insurance coverage through their parent’s health plan.  The downside to this is that many parents find themselves eligible for Medicare (click here for Medicare Explained)  but unable to participate without leaving their adult children uninsured.

What to do?  Your adult children should buy an individual health insurance plan of their own.  It was never a great solution for them to be on your health insurance plan to begin with, as we describe in this post.  And, effective January 1, 2014, there are even more reasons:

1)      There will be premium assistance credit’s  available, on a sliding scale, to those who’s income falls within Federal Poverty Levels.  This applies to many young adults just starting careers, finishing college and graduate school, or who are unemployed.

2)      Individual health insurance plans now offer essential health benefits , which drastically improves coverage and the need to pay for health expenses out of pocket.

3)      There may be tax implications to your child on your health plan, if they are non-dependent for tax purposes.  What is the impact on HSA’s, click here.

Lastly, and this is not a new reason, but it is the best reason: you and your adult child are at different stages of life and have MUCH different health care needs.  Your health insurance plan should be different than your child’s health plan for the best, most affordable health care for all of you.

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