On July 29, 2009, Governor Paterson also signed a second health insurance related bill (A9038) into law which requires every insurer to allow employers the opportunity to elect extended coverage for “dependent children” to age 29 under a group health insurance policy. The bill defines “dependent child” as an unmarried child through age 29 of an employee or member insured under a group policy, without regard to financial dependence, who is not eligible for coverage under any employee health benefit plan as an employee or member and is not entitled to Medicare benefits. The dependent child must live, work or reside in New York state or the service area of the insurer and not be covered under Medicare to qualify. 

It is important to note that an employer is not required to extend coverage of “dependent children” to age 29, only that insurers are required to offer coverage of “dependent children” to age 29 as an option to policyholders. Employers need not pay all or even a portion of the premium for this coverage. If an employer elects not to extend coverage through age 29, the insurer is still required to offer continuation coverage for dependents through age 29 and establish a distinct premium rate for this coverage. 

The new law goes into effect on September 1, 2009, and applies to policies and contracts issued, renewed, modified, altered or amended after that date. If a dependent child’s coverage terminated prior to September 1, 2009, the dependent child will have 12 months from the effective date to elect coverage. 

Note: This article was published in the September 2009 issue of the New Jersey eAuthority.

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