The Corner

‘Starting This Year’ in Obamacare

Fellow twentysomethings: How many times have you heard some version of this applause line from the president over the last year?

“And by the way, for all the students who are here today — (applause) — starting this year, if you don’t have insurance or if you’re about to graduate and you’re not sure what your next job is going to be or there’s a little gap between getting that job with insurance, all new plans and some current ones will allow you to stay on your parents’ insurance policy until you’re 26 years old, starting this year. (Applause.) Because as you start your lives and your careers, the last thing you should worry about is whether you go broke just because you get sick.”

Sounds great, right? But a moment’s reflection reveals there is some tension between “all new plans” and “starting this year,” since most of what’s new about the new plans doesn’t kick in until 2014. So the “some current ones” is snuck in there — it might as well be in parentheses or in an asterisked footnote — further spinning the sentence to the point of near incoherence.

Well, here’s what “some current ones” means:

Some families could pay a price if they seize the chance offered by the new health-care law to keep children up to age 26 on their insurance policies, regulations drafted by the Obama administration show.

Until 2014, when health plans will be prohibited from charging higher premiums based on preexisting conditions, insurers in the individual market can take into account the young adult’s medical condition when setting the family’s premium.

In addition, under certain circumstances, families could be required to pay extra to carry young adults on their policies.

The regulations published Monday also explain that there is an exception to the expanded coverage.

The provision “applies only to health insurance plans that offer dependent coverage in the first place: while most insurers and employer-sponsored plans offer dependent coverage, there is no requirement to do so,” the Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement Monday.

Since this is basically the only way Obamacare addresses the young, productive, and healthy — unless you count outlawing the kind of high-deductible disaster insurance that best suits many of us and perpetuating the use of our tax dollars to pay for entitlements that will be long bankrupt by the time we are old enough to enjoy them — so it might have been nice to let us know that some restrictions may apply. Oh, and the cost of the 26-and-under extension is expected to raise premiums by 1 percent in 2012 alone.

Pass the bill to find out what’s in it.


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