College Grads Offered Health Coverage by Major Insurers

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Apr 20 2010 - 11:20am

College graduation is an exciting and scary time. For some, at least one worry will be relieved. WellPoint and United Health Group will offer college graduates health insurance coverage ahead of schedule. The motion has received praise from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Under the new health care law signed last month by President Obama, young adults will be able to stay on or return to a parent’s health insurance plan until they reach the age of 26. The provision will take effect officially on September 23, 2010. WellPoint Inc and UnitedHealth Group have both decided to offer the coverage early for those under one of their plans.

WellPoint, which is based in Indianapolis IN and operates 14 Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in several states, will begin its extension of coverage on June 1st for all dependents. Spokeswoman Kristin Binns said, “We’ve just tried to make it seamless so they don’t experience any interruption in coverage.”

United Health, based in Minnetoka MN, will begin its extension of coverage immediately for graduating college students already on their parents’ plans. They estimate that the policy will help at least 150,000 graduating seniors and their families from having to find temporary coverage after graduation.

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Humana and Kaiser Permanente have also said that they will enact similar provisions ahead of September deadline. Kaiser spokesman Chris Stenrud said that details are still being worked out with employer groups and individual policy consumers.

Because some large corporate employers self-fund their employee health coverage and use insurance companies as plan administrators, the coverage may not be available early for all plans. UnitedHealthcare for example has said that nearly half of members, or about 11 million people, are enrolled in employer’s self-insured plans.

Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement, "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.

UPDATE, April 20, 2010, 19:30:
Blue Cross Blue Shield companies across the country have also expanded health insurance coverage to college graduates in advance of the health care reform law set to take effect in September. BCBSA announced today that each of the 39 independent companies would offer coverage effective June 1st.

According to President and CEO Scott P. Serota, BCBS provides coverage to nearly 100 million Americans and that the company is committed to “working collaboratively with the Administration, Congress, state regulators and all stakeholders for an effective and workable implementation of the new healthcare reform law.”

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