Monday, April 19, 2010

Laudable Carrier Tricks: College Edition [UPDATED]

While I have my issues with the whole idea that 26 year olds should be considered "dependents" on their parents' health insurance, it is the law (for now).

Or rather, it will be the law, come late September. For now, when college students "age off" ther parents' plans, they're on their own (which is perhaps a valuable lesson in personal responsibility). Nevertheless, soon carriers will be forced to postpone that separation.

United HealthCare (while the target of several episodes of Stupid Carrier Tricks) has pre-emptively decided to implement that postponement effective immediately. According to an email from the carrier:

"We want students to graduate into a secure future, not the ranks of the uninsured. We saw an issue with this possible gap in coverage and are the first health insurance company taking action ahead of the new requirements."

Of course, the premise - that 22- and 23-year olds aren't capable of purchasing their own insurance - is quite flawed. But the sentiment is compelling, and so UHC "will work with ... clients that wish to extend the health coverage that graduating college students currently have under their parents' plans."

Partial kudos to UHC.

UPDATE: My inner cynic finally determined why I found UHC's concern about young adults not joining "
the ranks of the uninsured" so disingenuous. Healthy young people are essentially "free money" to insurers, producing few claims. When a 22- or 23-year old ages off his/her parents' plan, the carrier loses that money; since so many young people choose to remain uninsured, carriers lose revenue. By pre-emptively implementing the new regs, a carrier mitigates that loss.

Yes, dependent coverage has historically been less expensive than a stand-alone plan (although that will likely change now), but "half a loaf..." Can't say I blame them, either.
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