Insurance coverage for college-age dependents

Q I am starting a new job. When I sign up for health-insurance benefits with my employer, can I still insure our children under the new plan? They are over 18, but under 25. One child is in college full time, one part time, the third not at all. Are there any age restrictions on covering them?

N.T.K., New York

A College-age dependents who are full-time students are usually covered, up until their early 20s, says Richard Coorsh, with the Health Insurance Association of America in Washington.

"But each policy varies," he says, "so you will need to check with [your] company or the plan administrator" as to the age-related cutoff date specified in the policy.

Children older than the cutoff date, or who are not full-time students, are typically not covered, he says. The reasoning: They should be getting a job and obtaining their own insurance.

Most colleges offer health-insurance policies for full-time students, and, in some cases, part-time students, depending on the number of credits taken.

Q My 401(k) plan offers several types of index funds. I currently invest in one based on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index. But I'm considering a switch to an enhanced index fund or a total-market index fund. Is such a move worthwhile?

H.C., Jersey City, N.J.

A Before switching, remember that enhanced index funds are inherently risker than regular index funds.

Enhanced funds use exotic trading practices - such as buying derivatives or special futures contracts - to spice up returns. In effect, they are actively managed funds, not pure index funds.

Results from a study by financial-information firm Ibbotson Associates in Chicago showed that a majority of enhanced index funds actually underperform the indexes they are based on. So before switching to an enhanced index fund, check to see if its past performance has kept up with regular index funds.

As for total-market index funds (which tend to track the Wilshire 5000 Index), they are currently outperforming S&P 500 Index funds, notes Sheldon Jacobs, publisher of the No-Load Fund Investor.

Questions about finances? Write:

Guy Halverson

The Christian Science Monitor

500 Fifth Ave., Suite 1845

New York, NY 10110


(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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