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Should Healthcare Cover Extended Families?

With so much debate going on right now over Obamacare and extending health insurance benefits to same sex couples, it raises the question: when are healthcare benefits going to be offered to extended families?

“With so many parents living with their children in their senior years, the idea of a ‘nuclear family’ has changed with many generations living under one roof,” says Jeff Bevis, CEO of FirstLight Home Care. “In the future, I hope we will see employers of the ‘sandwich generation’ extending healthcare benefits to more than just spouses and children.”

Right now the only option for adult son and daughters to take care of sick or aging parents is to rely on federal programs like Medicaid and Medicare, private insurance, veteran’s benefits, or pay out of pocket. This can get extremely expensive for children who have their own financial obligations.

According to the Pew Research Center, nearly half of adults in their 40s and 50s have a parent who is over the age of 65 and are either raising a young child or financially supporting a child 18 or older. About 1 in 7 middle-aged adults are providing financial support to both an aging parent and a child. This can put a squeeze on the family budget.

What Innovative Companies Will Lead The Charge?

As the job market starts to heat up and employers are looking for ways to stand out from their competition, one novel idea might be to offer health insurance coverage to extended families.

What Companies Will Be on the Leading Edge?

A recent survey by Grand Rounds discovered that 60% of U.S. employees with parents feel expanding healthcare benefits to extended families is  “somewhat important” while 68% report they would be more likely to choose an employer based on which one offered extended benefits if multiple offers were available.

Northern Kentucky University already offers this benefit and many other universities and companies may soon be following suit.

Shopping Private Health Insurance

If you’re looking for a plan that offers health insurance to extended families, here’s some tips from

  1. Talk to an insurance agent. Shopping online is not the way to go if you are trying to cover an extended family that may include parents, aunts, uncles, etc. These online software systems are not set up for ‘nuclear families.”
  2. See if there are any discounts for extended families. If an insurance company sees an extended family as one unit, there may be some discounts for volume. For instance, a discounted drug plan may be available.
  3. Insurance companies are becoming more in tune to the needs of extended families. With a little research, you can find plans that can reduce your medical costs dramatically.

At FirstLight Home Care, we’d love to know your feelings: do you feel healthcare should be offered for extended families?

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