Moms: Tell Your Kids to Buy Health Insurance

That’s the latest plea from the Obama administration, which is asking moms across the country to tell their kids to get “off the couch and on the computer” to sign up for health coverage.

As McClatchy DC reports in an article entitled “Moms know best, White House says,” the latest push to get people to sign up for coverage is part of the White House’s “Mom’s Know Best” week. From the article:

Women and moms often make the health care decisions for their families and the White House says they benefit directly from the Affordable Care Act, including a provision that women can’t be charged more for health care because they’re women.

Many believe the success of President Obama’s signature health reform legislation depends on young, healthy adults signing up for health coverage, but so far the percentage of young adults opting to buy health insurance has been lower than anticipated. So HHS and the White House are asking moms to help them with the effort by telling their kids that they need to enroll.

Of course, part of the problem is that a lot of the parents who are concerned about their adult children having health insurance have already signed them up on their plans thanks to the 2010 provision that allows children to stay on their parents’ health plan until age 26 even if they’re not a tax dependent, not a full-time student, not living at home, and even if they’re married. This provision was successful in getting a couple million young adults insured, but it’s also part of the reason so few have signed up for individual coveage through Healthcare.gov or the state-based exchanges.

However, we may see some of those young adults dropping off of their parents’ health plans this year. There are two primary reasons for this:

First, on some small group health plans, the price will increase for these young adults. That’s because some carriers are switching from composite to member-level rating in the small group market. A parent who previously paid an employee plus child or children rate will now pay a separate amount for each adult over the age of 21 and for the oldest three children under age 21. So adding an “adult child” will no longer be free for parents who were already covering one or more children, and they may find that these non-tax-dependent young adults would do better on their own plans with a government subsidy.

Second, some small employers are making the decision to drop their coverage altogether so that their employees can access the generous government subsidies available to families that earn less than 400% of the Federal Poverty Level and don’t have access to employer-sponsored coverage. To help employers determine the impact of offering or dropping group health coverage, brokers can use a tool like the Insight Catalyst Report (ICR), available from Health Partners America. This tool analyzes not only the impact on the employer’s bottom line from offering or dropping coverage but also looks at the impact on employees and their family members (Visit here to learn more about the ICR and Private Exchange opportunity).

It is worth noting that, while the employer’s decision to offer health coverage will generally block their employees’ family members from a government subsidy, it doesn’t block these adult children if they’re no longer tax dependents. So even in groups that do offer coverage, parents who are covering their 21- to 25-year-old children might do well to look at the subsidies these young adults might qualify for, and agents should share this information with employees at the annual enrollment meeting.

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