Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Eating Disorders and Michelle’s Law By Michael B. Snyder, J.D.

Michelle Morse was a full-time college student from New Hampshire who suffered from cancer yet continued her course load, against the advice of doctors, in order to fulfill the requirement for health care coverage as a dependent. Eating disorder patients are faced with the same dilemma, but treatment or consequences of the illness often simply prevents continued full-time studies.

Michelle’s Mother, AnnMarie first pushed the New Hampshire legislature successfully, then the U.S. Congress, to pass “Michelle’s Law,” which is effective for most healthcare plans (including self-insured plans) beginning January 1, 2010. Michelle’s law requires group health plans to provide coverage for dependents who do not meet the requirements of full-time student status because of a “medically necessary” leave of absence. The rules are simple: a dependent’s treating physician must certify to the plan that the dependent has a serious illness or injury and that the leave of absence is medically necessary, and the dependent child must have been enrolled in the group health coverage on the basis of his or her full-time student status on the date immediately preceding the leave of absence.

Work with your treatment team and insurance company to ensure that even though your child’s treatment may interfere with her or his full-time post-high-school education, it will not prevent continued healthcare coverage.

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