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Young Adults


There are now more health coverage options for young adults in Minnesota. Being able to stay on their parent’s health insurance plan, getting help paying for their own coverage, and receiving free preventive care are just a few of the benefits under health reform.

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What Young Adults Should Know About Health Reform

• Young adults can now stay on their parent’s health insurance plan until age 26, unless they have access to coverage through their own employer. Read more about coverage for young adults.

• New health plans must cover preventive care and screenings, such as an annual exam or the flu shot, at no cost to the patient. Read more about preventive services.

• For those up to age 19, coverage can no longer be denied because of a preexisting condition like asthma or diabetes. Starting in 2014, no one can be denied because of a preexisting condition. Read more about coverage of preexisting conditions.

• Until 2014, there are options for those who are denied coverage in the private market, including the Minnesota Comprehensive Health Association, the Preexisting Condition Insurance Plan and Minnesota health care programs. Read more about alternatives when denied for coverage.

• In 2014, most Minnesotans will be required to have health coverage through their employer, a public program or a private insurance plan. Read more about the requirement to have health coverage.

• Starting in 2014, Medical Assistance will expand to cover more people, including young adults making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level—about $15,000 a year in 2011. Read more about Medicaid expansion.

• Starting in 2014, young adults without employer coverage will be able to shop for health insurance plans through the Minnesota Health Insurance Exchange. Depending on income, tax credits may be available to help pay for coverage. Read more about an Exchange

Where can I find information on public programs available in Minnesota to provide health coverage for young adults?

The Minnesota Department of Human Services has information on their website regarding public programs specifically for 19- and 20-year-olds and other Minnesota Health Care Programs.

What are the new requirements under federal health reform for coverage of young adults under a parent’s plan?

The new federal law requires plans that offer dependent coverage to make the coverage available until the adult child reaches the age of 26. 

Which plans are required to extend dependent coverage up to age 26?

The expansion of dependent coverage applies to individual family health plans and to new employer plans.  It also applies to existing employer plans unless adult children have coverage available through their own employer.  Beginning in 2014, children up to age 26 can stay on a parent’s employer plan even if they have another offer of coverage through their own employer.

The federal requirements apply to self-funded employer plans and plans offered by insurance companies in all states.

Does the adult child have to purchase an individual policy?

No.  Eligible adult children who want to take advantage of the new coverage can be included in the parents’ family policy.

Are both married and unmarried young adult children covered under the expansion of dependent coverage?

Yes, but plans are only required to provide coverage for the married adult child.  There is no requirement to cover the spouse of the adult child.

Can plans require that a young adult child be a full-time student?

No.  Under federal health reform, young adult children do not need to be full-time students to be covered under a parent’s health plan.

Does a young adult child have to live with parents or be financially dependent on them to be covered under their health plan?

No.  Under federal health reform, the parent’s health plan cannot require that the young adult child live with their parent or be financially dependent on the parent to be covered under the parent’s health plan.

Once federal health reform takes full effect in 2014, are there any restrictions on coverage of young adult children under age 26?

Under federal health reform, plans that offer dependent coverage must provide coverage until a child reaches the age of 26. 

There is one exception for group plans in existence on March 23, 2010.  Those group plans may exclude adult children who are eligible to enroll in their own employer’s health plan.  This exception for adult children ends on the plan’s renewal date in 2014.

I am under age 26 and do not have coverage available through my own employer. My parents are covered under separate plans through their employers. Both offer dependent coverage. Can I choose to enroll in either parent’s plan?

Yes, though it does depend on whether the plan is open for adding new dependents.  Plans should have already provided a special enrollment period for young adult children when eligibility expanded for kids to age 26.  If a parents’ plan has an open enrollment period, young adult children should be able to enroll at that time.  If the young adult child loses other group coverage, they may also be eligible to enroll as a special enrollee.  Check with both parents’ plans and find out when and how to enroll.

Does requirement to cover dependents apply to plans that do not currently provide dependent coverage?

No.  There is no federal requirement for a plan to offer dependent coverage.  However, the majority of employer-based health plans offer dependent coverage.  If coverage is not available through an employer, policies can be purchased directly from a health plan. 

How does health reform support healthy youth development?

Under health reform, Minnesota is implementing programs to decrease risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among our most vulnerable youth.  A three-pronged approach targeting teens, parents of teens, and caring adults will help to address Minnesota’s high rates of teen pregnancies and births, as well as soaring chlamydia rates. These efforts include Ramsey County, the most densely populated and racially diverse county in Minnesota.

Other populations in Minnesota that experience high rates of teen births and STIs will receive high quality medically accurate and evidence-based programs. These populations in Minnesota include young people of color and American Indian youth, youth in foster care or aging out of foster care, youth in juvenile detention or on probation, runaway and homeless youth, and youth in alternative learning centers. Minnesota will target these populations geographically, with a special emphasis on the top 25 counties with the highest rates in teen pregnancies.

I have been denied coverage because I have a preexisting condition. What will health reform do for me?

Effective Jan. 1, 2014, insurers will be prohibited from discriminating against individuals with preexisting conditions in offering or pricing health insurance policies.

In the meantime, a temporary federal high-risk pool program has been set up in every state, including Minnesota.  This temporary federal pool is known as the Preexisting Condition Insurance Plan (PCIP) and provides coverage to U.S. citizens and legal residents with preexisting conditions who have been uninsured for at least six months.  Benefit plans offered by the PCIP provide coverage without a preexisting condition exclusion.

The PCIP is operating in addition to our state high-risk pool, the Minnesota Comprehensive Health Association (MCHA).  The eligibility requirements for the two pools differ.  If you do not qualify for the PCIP plan, MCHA may be an option.  MCHA’s website provides information about eligibility requirements for MCHA, how to qualify for a waiver of MCHA's preexisting condition exclusion, etc.

Will preventive services be covered under my health plan?

If you are enrolled in employer health coverage or a health insurance plan that was created after March 23, 2010, preventive services are covered at no cost to you. In 2014, all plans will cover preventive services, including those purchased on the Minnesota exchanges.  Please note that the health plan is only required to cover preventive services at 100 percent if you are using an approved, in-network provider.   Also, if the preventive service is not the primary reason for your doctor’s visit, you may be charged some of the cost of the visit.  If you have questions, it’s always best  to check with your employer or insurance carrier directly to confirm. 

What services are considered “preventive services”?

Depending on your age and health plan, you may receive the following preventive services at no cost to you. For a full list of preventive services, visit

• Blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes screenings
• Cancer screenings, including mammograms and colonoscopies
• Counseling on such topics as quitting smoking, losing weight, eating healthfully, treating depression and reducing alcohol use
• Routine vaccinations against diseases such as measles, hepatitis or meningitis
• Flu and pneumonia shots
• Counseling, screening, and vaccines to ensure healthy pregnancies
• Regular well-baby and well-child visits, from birth to age 21

What is an Exchange?

A Health Insurance Exchange is a marketplace for individuals and businesses to compare, choose, and buy affordable health insurance for high quality care.  An Exchange can make health care easier to navigate for consumers and small businesses.  It can allow Minnesotans to easily compare health insurance options based on cost, quality, and consumer satisfaction.  It can also foster fair and equitable competition to encourage insurers and health care providers to place a greater focus on value and affordability.

An Exchange is an online marketplace where Minnesotans can purchase private health insurance or enroll in public programs like Medical Assistance and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP).  Subsidies and tax credits will be available to eligible individuals and small businesses to make coverage more affordable.

An Exchange can help small businesses provide affordable coverage choices to their workers and allow employees to choose the plan that is best for them and their families.  Employees will be able to use contributions from one or more employers to purchase coverage for them and their families and keep that coverage if they become self-employed, lose their job, or if they change jobs. An Exchange can also simplify the administration of health insurance for small businesses and allow them to focus on growing their business instead of managing health insurance.

When would an Exchange be effective?

Coverage through an Exchange would start effective Jan. 1, 2014.  States have until January 1, 2013 to create their own health insurance exchanges or the federal government will establish one for a state.

What functions would an exchange perform?

An Exchange would perform a number of functions, including:

• Operating a toll-free hotline and website for providing information
• Ensuring that health insurance plans meet certain standards (for example, related to marketing, access to health care providers, and reporting on quality of care)
• Providing information in a standard format to help consumers compare insurance companies and benefit plans
• Determining eligibility for individual premium tax credits, cost-sharing  assistance, and coverage requirement exemptions
• Determining eligibility for Medical Assistance
• Determining eligibility for small business premium tax credits
• Providing real-time enrollment in health benefit plans
• Making an electronic calculator available to display the cost of coverage
• Communicating with employers regarding employee tax credit eligibility, cancellation of coverage, etc.
• Establishing a Navigator program that connects Minnesotans with an individual or organization who assists consumers and businesses to navigate an Exchange

Who would be eligible to use an Exchange?

An Exchange would be available to be used by individual consumers and small businesses with up to 100 employees when it opens for enrollment effective Jan. 1, 2014.  Minnesota may limit small business eligibility to those with less than 50 employees prior to 2016, but this decision has not yet been made.  Large employers may be allowed to participate in 2017.

Where is Minnesota in the process to plan for a Health Insurance Exchange?

The state is working with all stakeholders to plan and develop a Minnesota exchange.  Minnesota received a $1 million planning grant in February 2011. This grant funded actuarial and economic research on the market impact of an Exchange, the development of an IT Infrastructure, Request for Proposals for prototypes to evaluate technical options and costs for an Exchange, and initial work to assess the operations of an Exchange.

Minnesota received a $4.2 million grant in August 2011 to support the design and development of a Minnesota Exchange. The grant funds the creation of an initial structure with human and other resources to support the design and development of an Exchange, development of technical infrastructure, and stakeholder engagement to help craft the design of an Exchange through an Advisory Task Force and other public forums.

Does the health reform require me to purchase coverage?

Effective Jan. 1, 2014, all U.S. citizens and legal residents will be required to obtain health insurance coverage.

What happens if I do not buy coverage?

Those who do not obtain coverage will pay a tax penalty beginning in 2014.  The penalty is set to increase each year as follows:

In 2014, it will be the greater of $95 per adult or 1 percent of taxable income.
In 2015, it will be the greater of $325 per adult or 2 percent of taxable income.
In 2016, it will be the greater of $695 per adult or 2.5 percent of taxable income.
After 2016, the tax penalty increases annually based on a cost-of-living adjustment.

A person will only pay one-twelfth of the total annual penalty for each month without coverage. The penalty for a child is half that of an adult.  A maximum penalty will be calculated based on premiums for plans offered through an Exchange

Will there be any exceptions?

Yes.  The law provides exceptions for:

1) Individuals and families below a certain income
2) People who cannot afford the coverage that is available
3) Individuals who have been uninsured for less than three months
4) Members of American Indian tribes and
5) People who do not obtain coverage because of religious objection.

Why does health reform require people to have health insurance coverage?

The requirement for individuals to have health insurance coverage was part of the overall health reform package that provides subsidies to make coverage more affordable. This provision requires insurers to cover everyone, regardless of health status or history.  Without the requirement to have health coverage, people with health problems are more likely to get health insurance while others would forgo insurance until they develop a health condition.

If healthy people don’t buy coverage, there would be only a small number of very expensive coverage choices available.  The requirement to buy health coverage makes sure that people don’t wait until they have a health problem to purchase insurance.  This brings healthy people into the pool, creates a larger pool of both sick and healthy individuals, and keeps average costs down.


Link to frequently asked questions about an Exchange.

Alternatives if Turned Down for Coverage

Link to frequently asked questions about alternatives if you are turned down for coverage.


Link to frequently asked questions about subsidies.

Insurance Rates

Link to frequently asked questions about insurance rates.

Lifetime and Annual Limits

Link to frequently asked questions about lifetime and annual limits.

All Topics

Links to frequently asked questions on all topics.