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Do I have to accept employer health insurance? Consumer Q&A

By on December 14th, 2012
Filed: Advice, Health Insurance, You, Young Adults

Most people are glad to accept health insurance coverage when it’s offered to them through a new job. Employer-based health insurance plans usually provides rich benefits, and you can’t be declined coverage for an employer plan due to pre-existing medical conditions.

However, a popular 2010 provision of the health reform law is changing the equation for some people. Young adults can now stay on a parent’s health insurance plan until they turn 26 – and the fact is, a lot of them would rather stick with their parent’s coverage than enroll in health insurance plans offered through their employer.

Last week on Yahoo Answers, we took a question from a young woman who just interviewed for a new job. The company offers health insurance but if she enrolls in the company plan $500 per month will be taken from her salary to help pay for her coverage.

Can she stick with Mom and Dad’s plan or does she have to accept her new employer plan instead? What are her options?

The eHealthInsurance reply was voted Best Answer:

As you know, the health reform law allows your parents to keep you enrolled under their plan until age 26. Technically, however, if you are offered health insurance through your employer (even if you decline it), your parents’ plan is not required to extend coverage to you anymore. Ask your parents to contact their HR department to make sure they understand the company policy about dependent coverage in cases like this. Don’t try and pull a fast one by declining the employer coverage and sticking with your parents’ plan. They could find out a year later and have all your medical claims reprocessed as patient responsibility.

Another option:

You could shop for coverage on your own instead. $500 per month is egregious for single-person coverage. According to our annual Costs and Benefits report for 2012, the nationwide average monthly premium paid for self-purchased coverage for people between the ages of 19-25 is $125. If you’re young and healthy you should have better options available to you – just remember that in most states you can still be declined coverage based on a pre-existing medical condition.

If you’re approved for coverage on your own, you could then take the job and decline the expensive coverage your prospective employer offers. You would no longer need your parents’ coverage.

Assuming you’re new to shopping for health insurance on your own, I’d recommend that you work through a licensed agent online or in your area. It doesn’t cost anything extra to work with an agent and it can give you a broader view of what’s available.

You can also review our health insurance buyer’s guide for free.

Best wishes.

Image by Flickr user DorkyMum


About Douglas Dalrymple

Doug Dalrymple is a member of the communications team at eHealth, Inc. and has worked in the health insurance and technology industries for fifteen years. He works on communications strategy, content creation and management, project management, and corporate messaging.

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