Sebelius: Employers Should Quickly Offer Coverage To Workers’ Children Up To Age 26
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius Thursday urged employers to extend health insurance to children of their employees up to age 26 before a provision in the new law requiring them to do so takes effect later this year, The New York Times reports. Many insurers have already made the change, but many employers have demurred. A new survey of 661 companies by employee benefits consulting firm Towers Watson "found that 16 percent were planning to offer coverage to adult children before the deadline - the start of the first plan year beginning on or after Sept. 23. For many employers, with health plans that operate on a calendar-year schedule, the deadline is Jan. 1" (Pear, 5/27).
Kaiser Health News adds, "Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Labor officials are 'reaching out to large employer groups asking them to look at an opportunity to open the plans earlier than mandated and make this coverage available,' [Sebelius] said Thursday at a news conference to discuss implementation of the law" (Carey, 5/27).
Sebelius also had words of warning for insurers during the news conference, Reuters reports. She said, "As we proceed, we'll continue to look for opportunities to work with insurance companies but also keep a close watch to make sure that they're treating their customers fairly." The comments came after a meeting with executives from WellPoint, Cigna and Blue Cross Blue Shield. "The worst of all worlds is to have more Americans driven out of the market in the next couple of years and end up with a sicker population, if you will, because they don't have ongoing healthcare," Sebelius said (Krauskopf, 5/27).