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Determining Compliance with the Michelle's Law Provisions in Part 7 of ERISA

Note: Under the Affordable Care Act group health plans and issuers are generally required to provide dependent coverage to age 26 regardless of student status of the dependent. Nonetheless, under some circumstances, such as a plan that provides dependent coverage beyond age 26, Michelle's Law provisions may apply.

Does the plan comply with the Michelle's Law requirement not to terminate coverage of dependent students on medically necessary leave of absence?

Medically necessary leave of absence means with respect to a dependent child in connection with a group health plan or health insurance coverage offered in connection with a group health plan, a leave of absence from or other change in enrollment status in a postsecondary educational institution that begins while the child is suffering from a serious illness or injury; is medically necessary; and causes the child to lose student status for purposes of coverage under the terms of the plan or coverage.

A dependent child is a beneficiary who is a dependent child under the terms of the plan or coverage, of a participant or beneficiary under the plan or coverage and who was enrolled in the plan or coverage on the basis of being a student at a postsecondary educational institution immediately before the first day of the medically necessary leave of absence involved.

  • A group health plan or issuer shall not terminate coverage of a dependent child due to a medically necessary leave of absence that causes the child to lose student status before the date that is the earlier of:
    • the date that is one year after the first day of the medically necessary leave of absence; or
    • the date on which such coverage would otherwise terminate under the terms of the plan or health insurance coverage. See ERISA section 714(b).

Tip: The group health plan or issuer can require receipt of written certification by a treating physician of the dependent child which states that the dependent child is suffering from a serious illness or injury and that the leave of absence (or other change of enrollment) is medically necessary.