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Insurers to Act Early to Fill Coverage Gap for Young Adults

Thousands of college graduates won’t have to worry about getting dropped from their parents’ health insurance after they get their diplomas this spring.

Several major insurance companies announced late yesterday they would act early on a key provision of the new health care reform law that will require them to allow adult children of policy holders to stay on their parents’ plans until age 26.

The provision doesn’t begin until Sept. 23, but United Healthcare and Humana said they will immediately put the new rules into effect so that young adults graduating this spring won’t lose their coverage over the summer. WellPoint, which operates Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in 14 states, said its coverage extension will begin June 1. Kaiser Permanente is still working out the details of its extension, but said it plans to extend coverage before September.

The companies said they made the changes early to prevent young adults from facing a gap in their coverage.

“Now, young adults who are finishing college or just beginning to look for a job in such a competitive environment won’t have to worry that they’ll lose their health coverage,” Bill Tait, vice president of sales and market operations for Humana based in Louisville, Kentucky, said in a statement.

Until now, many health insurance plans have required adult children to stay enrolled in school in order to keep their dependent insurance benefits.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius praised the insurance companies’ action.

“We are also working hard with other insurers on similar proposals and sent a letter today offering to work with each of them to expand this opportunity even further,” she said in a statement issued today.

The extension is not expected to affect insurance premiums, according to the Associated Press, as it applies to young adults, who are generally healthy and whose care costs relatively little.

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