Young adults, ages 19 to 29, are one of the largest growing age groups and account for approximately one-third of Americans who do not have health insurance. This makes sense when one considers that young adulthood is a period of transition- going from high school to college to the working world or from high school to the working world. Many times individuals in this age group will start out in entry-level low paying and/or temporary jobs where benefits are not offered. Other times they are naïve and do not understand the importance of insurance yet because they have less illnesses than older individuals. Lastly, at this stage in their life, an individual policy is often cost prohibitive.
Consequently, many states are reviewing extending dependent benefit coverage to young adults who are not enrolled in college full time. Utah was the first state to require benefit plans to continue after the dependent was out of school and/or college, up to age 26. In New Jersey you can continue to cover your dependents up to age 31 as long as they are unmarried and do not have children of their own.
Washington State, along with over half of the other states, has enacted similar legislation. If you are still under the impression that employees can only cover their dependents after age 19 as long as they are enrolled in college, be sure you are up to date with Washington state law:
Option to cover dependents under age twenty-five.
(1) Any individual health care service plan contract that provides coverage for a subscriber’s dependent must offer the option of covering any unmarried dependent under the age of twenty-five.
(2) Any group health care service plan contract that provides coverage for a participating member’s dependent must offer each participating member the option of covering any unmarried dependent under the age of twenty-five.
As with other facets of US health care, changes to company provided health care coverage will continue. It is important that as employers, we keep up with these changes.