Campus & Community

Harvard extends benefits in advance of health reform deadline

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Harvard University is extending medical and dental benefits to eligible employees’ dependents who otherwise would become ineligible for continued coverage. This extension, which began June 1, provides seamless coverage for dependents until the new federal health reform guidelines take effect on Jan. 1, 2011.

Harvard’s extension of coverage applies to employees’ dependents ages 19 to 26 who graduated this spring or who will “age off” of coverage between June 1 and Dec. 31, 2010. Dependents will not need to obtain COBRA or alternative health and dental coverage. Neither employees nor their dependents need to take any action to continue to receive these benefits. Dependents who are currently covered (including full-time students between the ages of 19 and 25) will continue to be eligible for coverage during this time.

This change is motivated by the new federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which will require private health insurers to allow dependents to remain on their parents’ plans through their 26th birthdays.

By extending benefits early, Harvard ensures continuity of coverage for hundreds of graduating students during the months before the dependent care provision of the new law takes effect. Harvard will also save its faculty and staff the necessity of having to re-enroll family members in the upcoming calendar year.

The extension applies only to those dependents covered by a Harvard health plan as of June 1. Dependents who were disenrolled from plans prior to June 1 will be able to re-enroll in their parents’ health plans beginning Jan. 1, 2011.

Harvard employees can find more detailed information in a list of frequently asked questions on the password-protected HARVie Web site, in an online Resource article, or by contacting the HHR Benefits office at