College graduates or young adults starting out on their own don't have to worry about not having health insurance thanks to the Affordable Care Act, which allows them to remain under their parents policy until the age of 26.
Beginning on or after Sept. 23, health insurance agencies that offer dependent coverage to young adults under their parent's policies must continue to offer the same coverage to children until they've reached 26, provided that the child does not have a job that offers health insurance. This extension applies to a young adult even if he does not live with his parents, is not a dependent on his parent's tax return, or is no longer a student.
Several health insurance providers in West Point have already implemented this new policy, including Galloway, Chandler and McKinney Insurance. Kyle Chandler, partner in GCM, said this extension decreases the high rate of uninsured young adults and helps them get the medical attention they need without worrying about not being able to afford it.
“If they're in school or out of school and having a hard time finding a full time job that offers health insurance, they can still have coverage, which before hand they would not have been able to keep,” Chandler said. “It gives them a little more time to get established and makes them feel freer knowing they have coverage.”
The Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law March 30, 2010, states that all eligible young adults have an opportunity to enroll for plan or policy years beginning on or after Sept. 23 regardless of whether the plan or coverage offers an open enrollment period. The enrollment opportunity and a written notice must be given to the insurance provider no later than the first day of the first plan or policy year beginning on or after Sept. 23.
Before the Act was signed, many insurance companies removed young adults from their parent's insurance plans after they reached a certain age, which contributed to the fact that 30 percent of young adults are uninsured- a higher rate than any other age group. Young adults also have the lowest rate of access to employer-based insurance because of entry-level jobs, part-time jobs or other factors that go along with entering into the job market for the first time.
One in six young adults has a chronic illness like cancer or diabetes, and Chandler said this new policy will encourage them to visit the doctor whom they may not otherwise see without health insurance.
“They can do a lot more preventative care, annual physicals and have more access to health care which would hopefully help them to identify a problem at an early stage,” Chandler said.