What Sandra Bullock's adoption can teach you about health insurance

By Megg Mueller on June 3rd, 2010

Among other reasons, Sandra Bullock made news recently for the adoption of her son, Louie. Louie Bardo Bullock was born in New Orleans, and the actress is adopting him as a single parent. Adopting a baby can take a long time, as it did in Bullock's case; she started the process four years ago. While Bullock probably doesn't have to worry about the cost of health care, for the rest of us, it's good to know that a newly adopted child can be covered under your group health insurance plan.

Adding an adopted child to your health insurance policy

When should you add your baby? Many plans allow coverage to begin the day you become financially responsible for the child. So from day one, if your adoption is in place, you can make sure your baby has health care. There is no waiting period, or need to hold off until your plan's open enrollment period. That is because adoption is considered a life event, like a marriage, divorce or birth.

According to the Department of Labor, if you receive medical benefits through your employer, under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), your group plan has to allow your adopted child to be added. While rules differ from plan to plan, you must be given at least 30 days to notify the plan of a new dependent; some give 60 days. Additionally, coverage is retroactive to the date of adoption or placement of adoption.

HIPAA also makes pre-existing condition exclusions illegal for those who are enrolled within 30 days of birth, adoption or placement of adoption. If you are considering or currently undergoing the adoption process, check with your benefits administrator to get the specific rules of your plan long before you bring your baby home.

Adoption and COBRA coverage

There are also provisions for coverage in the event you lose your job during the adoption process. Should you elect COBRA continuation coverage when you lose employment, your newly born or adopted child is considered a qualified beneficiary and will receive benefits under COBRA coverage.

Private insurance and adoption

Private health insurance differs from the rules that apply to group medical insurance. Individual policies are regulated at the state level, so you should contact your state's department of insurance to determine the rules that may apply to your policy.

Babies require lots of post-natal care; make sure you're prepared to provide it, and congratulations!

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