Your ability to add an elderly parent to your health insurance coverage will vary by company and by medical plan. To determine if a parent who is deemed a qualified dependent can be added, you must approach human resources to determine your company's policy. You should also review your Summary Plan Documents and medical insurance contracts issued by the insurance carrier to see if there are stipulations in your medical plan for who can, and cannot, be added as an eligible dependent.
Claim as Dependent
If your medical plan and company allow for an elderly or disabled parent to be added to your coverage as a dependent, you must prove he is a qualified dependent. To do this, you must be able to substantiate that your parent does not file a W-2 with the IRS. You must also provide at least half of the means to support him. Whether or not he resides with you could also impact your ability to establish him as a qualified dependent. Some insurance plans allow for parents to be deemed qualified dependents even if they reside in an assisted living facility.
Contact Human Resources
Your company's human resources department will be able to provide you with all the company policies and steps pertaining to claiming a parent as a dependent. It will also be able to facilitate this change to your insurance coverage, either through the insurance carrier directly or through the health insurance broker that manages your company's plan. In some cases, human resources will act as a liaison between you and the carrier to add your elderly parent as a dependent.
Open enrollment is the time during the year when changes can be made to your insurance coverage. This is usually the time of year, typically a period of a few weeks before the new benefit year kicks in, that you would add or remove dependent coverage. When filling out your enrollment forms, you would add your parent or parents as qualified dependents. The HR department might need to contact the carrier to issue special enrollment forms that allow for this option, depending on the carrier.
A qualifying event is an event that allows you to make changes to your health insurance plan outside of the open enrollment period. If you begin caring for an elderly parent mid-year, for example, and take her on as a dependent, this could be seen as a qualifying event. Since the change in the amount of dependents you can claim is listed as an approved qualifying event, this could allow you to add your parent to your coverage mid-year. It depends on the carrier and your corporate policies.
Michelle Barry graduated from Salve Regina University with a Bachelor of Arts in English. Since then, she has worked as a reporter for the Wilbraham-Hampden Times, an editor for Month9Books and Evolved Publishing, editor and has spent the past seven years in marketing and graphic design. She also has an extensive background in dance.