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A Graduation Present from Your Health Plan

Graduation is right around the corner – which unfortunately means thousands of college students are at risk for losing their health coverage. With the economy still looking gloomy, a large portion of those students will be jobless, therefore insurance-less, upon graduation. These students will have to hang tight until September 22, when the health reform provision that children up to age 26 can remain on their parents’ insurance goes into effect.

However, a few health plans surprised us all yesterday by announcing that they would implement the provision for graduating students sooner than the bill requires. UnitedHealthcare and Humana will comply immediately, WellPoint on June 1 and Kaiser at some point before September.

If you think about it, it is actually in their best interest to continue coverage for these individuals. Not only do gaps in coverage mean additional re-enrollment fees, but this is a population of young, generally healthy individuals who are cheap to insure. Why take them out of the risk pool, even temporarily? HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sent a letter to other insurers explaining this and urging them to jump on the bandwagon.

Big picture: This is a huge, on-the-ground implementation that will benefit thousands of U.S. citizens within just the next few months. Brace yourselves, because this is only the beginning!