Q. I am 82, retired, and on Social Security with a private Medicare Advantage plan. My wife is 52, unemployed, and uninsured, and we have a 20-year-old son in college. Is our son eligible for coverage under my Medicare Advantage Plan as per the Affordable Care Act?
A. No, he's not. The provision of the Affordable Care Act that allows young adults to remain on parental plans until their 26th birthdays applies neither to Medicare (including Medicare Advantage and Medigap) nor to "retiree-only" health plans, employer plans that cover retirees only and do not have any active employees in them.
Moreover, all Medicare and Medigap plans are available on an individual basis only. There's no such thing as dependent coverage with these plans. To get Medicare, you have to be personally eligible for it.
I suspect, based on conversations I've had with officials charged with implementing the health reform law, that it didn't occur to the people who wrote it that Medicare-aged people might have children under 26. But they most certainly can and do, judging by the steady flow of queries I've received from people in your situation.
So you're going to need to purchase health insurance on the individual market for your wife and son. Don't delay; going without health insurance is risking financial disaster if an unexpected illness or injury strikes. Here's our guide to what good insurance looks like, and here are instructions on how to shop for an individual plan.
Your son may have another option as well. Most colleges have student health plans, and the Affordable Care Act has greatly improved their quality and comprehensiveness. Check with your son's college to see whether it has a health plan and, if so, when's the next time he can sign up for it.