Health Insurance: Parents Behaving Badly

Last Updated Jun 6, 2011 5:32 PM EDT

Thanks to federal healthcare reform, parents are now able to keep their adult children on their health insurance plan until they are 26. But here's a shocker: plenty of moms and dads say they are unwilling to extend health care coverage to their adult children.

According to a new survey conducted by eHealthInsurance, 38% of parents claimed that they would be unwilling to carry their adult children on their policies.

Health Insurance Survey Results

Here are some of the other surprising findings from the eHealthInsurance survey:
  • 43% of parents would keep their children on their policies, but only if it cost them $0.
  • 22% would keep their children on their policies if the cost ranged from $1 to $99 a month.
  • 41% of parents would only help their children with health insurance costs for less than a year or never.
  • 25% of parents would help their children purchase their own health insurance coverage.
Beyond health insurance issues, 56% of parents said they would provide no more than one year of financial assistance after their children graduate from college.

Parents Behaving Badly

I was surprised that so many parents appear unwilling to extend health coverage to their grown children, who are unemployed or who work at jobs without coverage. I understand that lower income families could be unable to pay the tab, but what about everyone else? Frankly, I think covering grown children would be smarter financially. After all, what happens if a son or daughter becomes seriously ill and needs medical care? Who would pay the more expensive tab then?

When Individual Policies are Better

Sometimes it is best that parents do not cover their children with their own health care policies. Here, according to eHealthInsurance are the exceptions:
  • Children live in a different state from the parents and the medical plan doesn't provide doctors or networks.
  • The parents don't have a group plan or are on COBRA and already faces huge insurance costs.
  • A comparison of premiums indicates that an individual policy for the child is cheaper.
  • A parent's plan doesn't allow dependent coverage or limits enrollment to once a year.
Lynn O'Shaughnessy is author of The College Solution, an Amazon bestseller, and she also writes her own college blog at The College Solution.
Health insurance image by Subconsci Productions. CC 2.0.