October 2008 Bulletin, "Health Coverage Extended for College Students Taking Medical Leaves of Absence"
On October 9, 2008, President Bush signed Michelle's Law (Public Law 110-381), named for a New Hampshire college student who died from cancer in 2005. This law requires group health plans and health insurers to provide up to one year of extended coverage to college students who would otherwise lose health coverage when they take a medically necessary leave of absence. Health plans and insurers must also provide a new notice about a student's rights under the law.
Michelle's Law will apply only if a group health plan provides coverage to a dependent child based on student status at a postsecondary educational institution (whether attending full time or not). If a group health plan has postsecondary student status as one of its eligibility requirements, the plan must extend coverage for up to one year under certain conditions. This law is effective for plan years that begin on or after October 9, 2009, and applies to medically necessary leaves of absence beginning during that plan year. As is the case with many federal laws regulating group health plans, self-insured state and local governmental plans may elect to opt out, provided they comply with the federal notice requirements applicable to such opt-outs.