Family health

California allows children to add dependent parents to family health policies

The law requires health insurers and Covered California, the state’s public health insurance exchange, to refer families whose dependent parents are enrolled in Medicare, or who are eligible for Medicare, to a Medicare counselor in the program. state-run patient advocate, but the law does not include any provision preventing Medicare-eligible parents from purchasing major commercial medical insurance.

The law does not include any age limit for dependent parents signing up for commercial coverage, nor does it include any mechanism to manage the medical bills of dependent parents who have cancer, need a kidney transplant, organ or have other costly health problems.

Response from coverage providers

The California Association of Health Plans said it questions how the dependent relatives coverage requirement will be implemented and believes it will increase the cost of health coverage.

The Association of California Life and Health Insurance Companies initially opposed the requirement but shifted to a neutral stance after lawmakers exempted group health coverage providers from the requirement and made other changes .

Health insurance and coverage of dependent parents

Adult children who think coverage for people under 65 is better or cheaper than Medicare coverage, or who just want everyone in the house on the same plan, might see the new parent coverage at charging as the best option.

Bonnie Burns, a consultant with California Health Advocates, which helps train leading patient health advocates in California, says one concern is that adult children might be confused about the Medicare Part B application process. .

People who turn 65 have a one-time, six-month open enrollment period for Medicare Part B.

People who enroll in commercial coverage, without enrolling in Medicare Part B at all, could find themselves facing premium penalties and enrollment delays when they seek Medicare Part B coverage, says Burns.

That’s why patient advocates have insisted that insurers and exchanges should tell adult children to speak to Medicare counselors before adding dependent relatives to single or family coverage, Burns says.

An aerial view of San Francisco. (Photo: Jason Doy/ALM)