Employee Benefits-Government Issues Interim Regulations Relating To Coverage Of Children Up To Age 26

The Department of the Treasury, Department of Labor and Department of Health and Human Services have jointly issued Interim Regulations on the requirement in the recently enacted health care legislation that a health care plan, which offers dependent coverage, must make the coverage available for children until they reach age 26. This requirement becomes effective at the start of the first plan year beginning after September 23, 2010. Here are some of the points made in the Interim Regulations:

–A plan may not condition the eligibility of an employee’s child-of any age- for dependent health care coverage on any factor, such as marital status, student status, residency, and financial support, other than the child being under age 26.

–A plan cannot charge a higher premium for an adult child than for a younger child.

–The benefits available, and the terms and conditions of health care coverage, under the plan cannot vary based on the age of a child, so long as the child is under age 26.

–A plan cannot exclude a child under age 26 from health care coverage, even if that child previously lost coverage under that plan or had never been enrolled in the plan. A child who earlier lost or was denied health care coverage must now be given an opportunity to enroll in the plan (including being provided with a written explanation of this opportunity ), over a 30-day period. The enrollment period must start (and the written explanation must be provided) by no later than the start of the first plan year beginning after September 23, 2010.

–The child of an employee’s child need not receive dependent coverage.