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Important New York State Law Changes Affecting Group Health Plans

On July 29, 2009, New York State adopted the following two important changes affecting group health plans:

1. Entitlement of Unmarried Child to Remain under Parent’s Plan - Currently, an unmarried child’s eligibility for coverage under the parent’s group medical plan typically terminates as of the child’s attaining a specified age (i.e., age 19-23) or becoming independent (e.g., upon completing college). Commercial insurers will now be required to provide an option under their group health insurance policies to offer a coverage option to participants for their unmarried children who do not have access to their own employer-provided health insurance (and who are not covered by Medicare), through age 29, regardless of their financial dependence or independence from their parents. The family can be required to pay the entire premium for this coverage (i.e., no employer payment required).

2. Expansion of COBRA Continued Coverage Period - Currently, subject to certain exceptions, the maximum group health plan continuation coverage period under New York State “Mini-COBRA” is 18 months. The 18-month period has been increased to 36 months.

For purposes of most health insurance policies, the above changes will apply as of the policy’s next annual renewal date; however, technically, the changes apply to policies which are issued, renewed, modified, altered or amended on or after -- September 1, 2009, for the unmarried child’s coverage requirements, and July 1, 2009, for the increased COBRA continuation period.

This alert is a publication of Loeb & Loeb LLP and is intended to provide information on recent legal developments. This alert does not create or continue an attorney client relationship nor should it be construed as legal advice or an opinion on specific situations. 

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