Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Major health insurers start early to extend coverage of young adults under parents' plan

By Alison Young • USA TODAY • April 20, 2010 Thousands of college students scheduled to lose their parents' health coverage when they graduate this spring got a reprieve Monday from several major insurance companies. UnitedHealthcare, Kaiser Permanente, Humana and WellPoint said they will enact some provisions of the new federal health-care law ahead of schedule to let adult children stay on parents' plans until age 26. The law's provisions on young adults won't take effect until Sept. 23, but the companies said they are changing rules now to prevent young adults from falling into a coverage gap. Many plans have required adult children stay in school to keep dependent coverage; age cutoffs vary by state. "That change is really significant," said Sara Collins of The Commonwealth Fund, which studies health policy. "Particularly with the downturn in the economy, to find a job is difficult, even more so one that offers insurance." UnitedHealthcare and Humana will immediately let young adults remain on parents' plans until age 26. At WellPoint, which operates 14 Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans nationally, the change takes effect June 1. Kaiser plans to extend coverage before September to consumers who have individual policies and is in discussions with employer groups about their policies. Details are still being worked out, "but our intent is to avoid an interruption in coverage for them," said spokesman Chris Stenrud.

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