Can I Extend My Health Insurance to Cover My Parents and Siblings?

The cost of health insurance increases with each passing year. If you're lucky enough to have a robust health insurance policy through your employer, union or educational institution, you're probably happy with your current arrangement. However, your loved ones might be jealous of the security net in which you're enveloped. If you're the only person in your family with health insurance coverage, you may be able to use your policy to obtain coverage for some of your relatives.

Unfortunately, current laws limit the means by which you can do this. In addition, adding new people to a health insurance plan can be surprisingly expensive. Before you agree to add family members to your policy, take the time to get a good sense of their healthcare needs. Even if they appear to be healthy, they may have pre-existing conditions or injuries that require ongoing medical treatment. Such conditions could dramatically raise your total insurance costs. For instance, a family member with well-controlled diabetes could raise your premiums by 50 to 100 percent. A family member with a chronic condition like multiple sclerosis or lupus could raise your premiums by even more.

In order to determine the cost of insuring additional family members, you'll need to talk to your group insurance provider. If you receive insurance through your employer, you'll have no choice but to secure additional coverage from this company. Most group health insurance providers frown upon clients who take out supplemental policies. In fact, such a move could be grounds for your removal from the policy. If you have single-coverage health insurance, you're free to solicit quotes from other providers as well as your current insurer. Be prepared to devote a significant amount of time to the research process.

Finally, you'll need to determine the eligibility of each of your relatives. In most cases, you'll only be able to add your spouse and "qualifying" dependents to your plan. You probably won't be able to add your parents or adult siblings. However, it's important to note that most insurance companies don't impose age restrictions on these guidelines. If you can claim your parents and siblings as dependents, you may be able to add them to your policy. In order for this to work, you'll need to demonstrate that your parents and siblings are reliant on you for financial and social support. Since this requires a relatively high burden of proof, you might have difficulty doing so.

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