Help for those affected by the hurricanes | Learn More

A message from Aflac

To our policyholders in areas affected by the recent hurricanes, please know that the thoughts and prayers of everyone at Aflac are with you. We are working with government agencies that represent all declared disaster areas to ensure we do everything possible to help you. Based on that guidance, we have extended the due dates for policy premiums by 60 days for those living in places that have been declared disaster areas. If you have a question about your policy or need help, contact us at 800-992-3522. To help with the recovery, Aflac made a $500,000 donation to the American Red Cross, and our employees are making their own private contributions. Please be safe, as the care of you and your families is paramount.

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woman looking for money in a purse/bagParents of young adults know there are milestone birthdays to celebrate – or, in some cases, mourn. There’s 18, the age of legal adulthood. There’s 21, when it’s OK to raise a toast. And there’s a new age of demarcation: 26. That’s when an adult child is pushed out of the nest, at least in terms of health insurance.

One of the most popular provisions of health care reform allows adult children to remain covered on a parent’s major medical insurance plan until age 26. When the extension was introduced, families nationwide breathed sighs of relief. Why? For two primary reasons: First, because the struggling U.S. economy made it difficult for many young people to find jobs – and those fortunate enough to be employed often worked for companies that didn’t provide medical insurance. And second, because today’s young adults depend on mom and dad for help longer than those of previous generations. According to a Pew Research analysis of U.S. Census Data, in 2014 for the first time in more than 130 years, Americans ages 18-34 are more likely to live with their parents than in any other living situation.1

The slower move to live independently extends beyond housing and financial support. Young adults, even those with access to health insurance through their own employers, appear to be staying on their parents’ plans. A study by the ADP Research Institute shows less than half of all eligible employees under age 26 enrolled in employer-provided health plans in 2015.2

Sticking with mom’s or dad’s plan

Why would millennials choose to stay on their parents’ policies? One reason is financial: When mom or dad is footing the bill for their medical insurance, millennials keep more of their paychecks. That’s a good deal, especially when they’re just starting in careers and aren’t making impressive salaries.

But what happens when the gravy train ends and the candles on the birthday cake flame large at 26? It depends upon the employer’s plan, and that’s why it’s so important for businesses to communicate with workers about the particulars of their health care offerings. While some plans extend dependent coverage until the end of the year in which an adult child turns 26, the law requires only that dependents be insured up until their 26th birthday. That means if a dependent turns 26 on Oct. 31, required coverage may end the day before – on Oct. 30.

The good news, according to the ADP, is that evidence indicates that when 26-year-olds are booted from a parent’s plan, they’re likely to enroll in coverage of their own. Three-quarters of eligible employees aged 26 to 39 are enrolled in employer-sponsored health plans.2 But are they as well-protected as they should be? A Bankrate.com survey shows that 46 percent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 prefer plans with low premiums and high deductibles.3

The voluntary safety net

Choosing plans with high deductibles makes sense for many Americans – and especially for those at lower income levels. After all, it means they bring home fatter paychecks. But what happens when they’re faced with serious illnesses or injuries? Because they’ve chosen high deductibles, they may be confronted with thousands of dollars in medical bills before their insurance kicks in. That money could be difficult to come up with, especially for younger employees: The 2016 Aflac WorkForces Report revealed that 65 percent of millennials have less than $1,000 on hand to pay unexpected medical expenses.4

One solution is voluntary insurance, which works hand in hand with major medical plans to help ensure individuals who are sick or hurt have the funds needed to pay health-related costs their primary insurance doesn’t cover. After all, when a medical event occurs, there are deductibles, copayments and treatment costs to consider – not to mention the everyday bills that continue to roll in even if an individual is too ill or injured to work.

As an employer, there are many reasons to consider making voluntary insurance available to workers – and to clearly communicate its value:

  • Voluntary insurance can help provide employees with financial safety nets that may keep their minds on their jobs and not on money concerns.
  • Voluntary insurance pays cash benefits workers can use to help pay unexpected health care costs that might not be covered by major medical insurance or to help pay bills that threaten their financial security.
  • Voluntary insurance pays cash benefits regardless of any other insurance coverage employees have in place, including policies available through government health care exchanges.
  • Employees who are offered and enrolled in voluntary insurance policies report higher job satisfaction and believe they’re more financially prepared to pay for unexpected out-of-pocket medical expenses when compared to employees who are not offered or not enrolled in voluntary insurance policies.4

Millennial milestones

As an employer, it’s important to make sure millennials’ parents know what will happen when a covered child turns 26 – and that millennials in your workforce know they may have key health insurance choices to make when they hit the big two-six. Consider making one of those choices the option to enroll in voluntary insurance. It may not help with the pain of getting older or becoming more independent, but it will help provide protection from the financial costs that accompany illness or injury.