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A Prescription For Covering Uninsured Young Adults

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Originally published on Youthradio.org, the premier source for youth generated news throughout the globe.

By: Emily Beaver
Under 26 with no health insurance? Signing up for Mom or Dad's health insurance plan later this year might be the cure.

On September 23, part of health care reform that allows young adults to get insurance coverage through their parents' plans until age 26 will become law.

Before Congress passed health care reform earlier this year, every state had different rules about how long young people could be covered under their parents' plans. Insurance plans could drop young adults when they turned 19 or graduated from college. Some states allowed young people to stay on their parents' plans into their twenties, but required them to be living with their parents, unmarried, or a college student.

The good news for young people is that the new law does away with these rules, said Ari Matusiak, co-founder of the Young Invincibles, an organization that promotes opportunities for people ages 18 to 34. Starting September 24, young adults living in any state won't have to live with their parents, be students, or even be unmarried to be insured through a parent's health care plan, he said.

Matusiak and Young Invincibles co-founder Aaron Smith teamed up with AARP, a group for people over age 50, to answer questions about the new law at a virtual town hall meeting in Sacramento, California on Thursday. They also introduced GettingCovered.org, a new website that helps young adults find out if they can get insured through a parent's plan. The site, created by the Young Invincibles, lets young adults and their parents take a short quiz to find their health care options - they can even get personal "health care prescriptions" based on their quiz results e-mailed to them. Employers can also find information about adding adult children to insurance plans.

Not every young adult will be able to take advantage of the new provision. Employers aren't required to cover adult children who are offered insurance at their own jobs. Young people whose parents don't have insurance won't benefit. And young adults 26 and older still may struggle to find affordable health care options.

But for many young adults, who are more likely than any other age group to be uninsured, latching on to a parent's health plan could be one of the easiest, most affordable ways to get health care. An estimated 2 million young adults will be able to take advantage of this option, and parents who want to add them will only have to pay slightly more for their insurance, Smith said Thursday.

Wondering when you can sign up? After September 23, young adults can enroll in their parents' health plans during the next open enrollment period. Many health plan years begin on January 1 and hold open enrollment in the fall, but young people and their parents should check with their parents' employers to find out when they can enroll, Smith said.

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