I had the opportunity last week to speak to a number of employers in California and was surprised to learn that California has not adopted its own "age extension" coverage rules beyond age 23. So extending health benefits coverage for dependents up to age 26 actually had some impact for those employers. It also reminded me how important it is to be aware of the rules for every state in which you operate or provide benefits coverage.
A survey of the states where Fox Rothschild has offices paints a pretty broad picture. New York, Pennsylvania and Florida have statutory provisions that can extend dependent coverage on partners' health plans until age 30. New Jersey extends that coverage to age 31. Nevada extends coverage to age 24. Connecticut and Delaware do not have specific age extension statutes for coverage. Generally these rules apply to insured coverage written in those states. Some require residency in the state, while others don't.
So the health care reform "age-26" extension should serve as a reminder to employers that not only do they have to make sure their plans extend coverage up to age 26, but they should also double check to make sure they are in compliance with the rules of each state where they have employees. Don't assume that every policy in every state is the same and be prepared to address state specific questions from employees when it comes to this issue.
Above all, don't forget to rely on your plan professionals.