Can Insurance Companies Discriminate Because of ADHD?


My attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) son is 20, and he takes two classes in college. Our health insurance company will not cover him because he isn’t a full-time student. The problem is, he can’t manage a full-time course load because of his ADHD. Help!

ADDitude contributor Robert Tudisco is a practicing attorney with ADHD and an expert on special education law and disability advocacy.

Many parents are in the same boat. It is against the law for your insurance company to discriminate against your son because of his ADHD, but this may not be the case. According to the company’s definition, your son is not considered a full-time student. The company may argue that it abides by its definition, whether a student is disabled or not.

Gather documentation from your son’s college. If the college considers him a full-time student, and he has a 504 Plan that permits him to carry a partial class-load, you can appeal the insurance company’s determination. If you claim your son as a dependent on your income tax return, you may be able to show that, except for his disability, he would be a full-time student. Contact the Department of Insurance in your state, and ask whether the practice of disclaiming part-time students with disabilities is permitted within its regulations.

Your son may be eligible for coverage, or supplemental coverage, through his college or a government program, such as Medicaid. Qualifications are based on his income level. Check with your state’s Medicaid office to find out about his eligibility.

Since Robert Tudisco was diagnosed with ADHD, he has researched and written extensively on the subject of special education law and disability advocacy, and now specializes in the area as a practicing attorney. He is a former Executive Director of the Edge Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides specialized coaches for students with ADHD and Executive Functioning Impairment. He has served on the National Board of Directors of CHADD and is a former Vice President of ADDA. He is a frequent resource for the media, including CBS News, New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, ABC News, The BBC, The Today Show, CNN, USA Today, and The Seattle Times.
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