Health Insurance Guys: Varsity Blues (Shield) for California college kid
Health Insurance Guys

Health Insurance Guys: Varsity Blues (Shield) for California college kid

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Tom Schrette and Alan Cash

Tom Schrette and Alan Cash

Dear Tom and Alan:

When my son went to college in Massachusetts, he was covered by my Blue Shield family plan.

After reading the brochure and calling Blue Shield directly, I learned that Massachusetts is considered “out of network” so he would only be covered for emergencies. In fact, it appeared that anywhere outside of California was out of network.

At that time, I paid for a medical plan through his new college and took him off my plan: no savings in cost, but better coverage.

They even have a clinic right on campus! Then I found out the school plan only covered him in Massachusetts, but not in California when he visited…but that’s another story.

To make a long story longer, my son just graduated and now I’m going to put him back on my plan since he will be in California until he settles into a career (please, Lord).

I called Blue Shield and they said I needed a letter from the Massachusetts insurance carrier for the college, stating his name and the last date of coverage. I told Blue Shield that wasn’t available, and offered a letter of explanation from me along with a copy of his diploma. That was soundly rejected.

Please help with any remedy.

Dad

Tom: Great question and congratulations for one less on payroll!

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), losing coverage and/or moving can be a “qualifying event.” In the case of losing coverage, the carrier or the former employer usually provides the documentation.

I called Blue Shield with this scenario and got the same runaround that you did. There must be an easier way since this is certainly a common problem at this time of year…each and every year with college graduates.

After much cajoling with the Blue Shield customer services rep, she put me on hold, talked with God, or somebody with knowledge of such situations, and said that a letter from the college, on college letterhead, along with a newly completed “add a dependent” Blue Shield application should do the trick.

I then said “Should!? So you are not certain?”

She put me on hold again, and after connecting with some divine power, assured me that this was the remedy.

So, whew, for those of you going through this grand conundrum, have your kid get an “end of coverage” letter from the school prior to leaving, and remember to add that kid back on your plan.

As an aside, I asked several colleges when exactly the school-sponsored plan ends for their graduates. Some continue coverage until the start of the next school year, some end coverage on the last day of the current year, and some, like a particular college I know of in Massachusetts randomly pick next Sept. 8!

Al: Before Anthem Blue Cross bailed on California, it used to be that there was a “blue card” for Shield and Cross that worked in just about every state. Ah, progress.

Submit questions to schrette@gmail.com or alancash@gmail.com.

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