QUESTION: I currently have Group Health Healthcare under my parents' insurance policy as I was 25 until June 10th of this year. I just recently turned 26. I know my healthcare was provided until I turned 26. I also just recently got a job where my healthcare will be provided as of the end of August under BlueCross BlueShield.

How do I know if I can still be covered by Group Health in the meantime? I have heard that some policies end on the day of, meaning on June 10th, and some continue through the end of the year?


ANSWER: You should check with the human resources department of your parents' employer to find out when your coverage ends. Once it does, you have the option to remain covered through COBRA for up to 18 months. However, this can be expensive. You must pay the full cost of the premiums – both the amount your parents had been paying and the amount the employer had been contributing. The good news is that you have 60 days to decide from the date you receive a COBRA eligibility notice or the date your coverage ends, whichever is later. If you incur no medical expenses during that time, you can decline the COBRA option. If you incur expenses, you can sign up for COBRA with coverage retroactive to the date your eligibility under your parents' plan ended. More information on COBRA is available from the U.S. Department of Labor.

You may also be able to purchase an individual policy on an insurance exchange. Although the next open enrollment period does not begin until November 15, your loss of coverage triggers a special enrollment period. However, it only lasts for 30 days after coverage under your parents' plan ends. More information on special enrollment periods is available on the website. You may also be able to purchase an individual policy directly from an insurance company outside of a designated enrollment period.

Robert I. Field, Ph.D., J.D., M.P.H. is a professor of law at the Drexel University School of Law and professor of health management and policy at the School of Public Health at Drexel University. Rob and the expert panel of The Field Clinic blog are available to respond to your questions on health care.