Kids away at college need new health plan

I have employer sponsored health insurance, family plan. The only plan offered is an HMO. I have two children ages 18 and 20 both residing outside of the state of Connecticut (where I live and work), full-time students at college. This health plan will not cover anything outside of the state of Connecticut unless it is an emergency and even then they decide what is an emergency. I am no longer able to afford the premiums for a family plan and pay out of pocket for prescriptions and routine care provided out of state for my children. It is not possible for them to wait until they come home to go to the doctor because they both work part time and come home rarely because of travel expense; they are in Puerto Rico and Mississippi. Can I drop my employer health care and purchase a private plan through Anthem which would cover my children until they are 26 no matter where they are going to school? Thank you.

Empty Nester

Dear Empty Nester,

The short answer is yes you can do as you propose — drop your employer plan and buy a different plan.  Here are the impacts of doing that.

First, since your children have a group plan available to them, you will not qualify for any subsidies to buy a plan from the exchange.  That’s the bad news.

The second part is good news.  Since they are young, their coverage will be less expensive.  You could drop them from your employer plan, but keep yourself covered there.  Then you would just be buying coverage for two young people, rather than a family plan.  The total monthly premium might be similar to what you are paying now for your family plan at work.

As for what plan to purchase, you might do well to find an insurance broker.  A plan that covers care everywhere in the U.S. might be more expensive than one that covers care primarily in the states where they go to school.  Some colleges have good, cheap student health insurance.  It’s worth checking that too.

Good luck!


Linda Riddell

About Linda Riddell

A published author and health policy analyst with 25 years’ experience, Linda Riddell's goal is to alleviate the widespread ailment of not knowing what your health plan can do for you.