Some college graduates may have one less thing to worry about after receiving diplomas this spring, thanks to coverage extensions being offered by a couple health insurers.
WellPoint Inc. and UnitedHealth Group Inc. said they plan to allow dependents who receive coverage through a parent's health insurance to remain covered into September, when a new healthcare reform provision starts.
Under the healthcare reform law passed last month by Congress, starting Sept. 23 young adults will be able to stay on or return to a parent's insurance plan until age 26.
UnitedHealth, which is based in Minnetonka, Minn., said its extension starts immediately and extends coverage that graduating college students currently have from their parents until the healthcare reform provision takes effect. The extension applies to plans offered through the insurer's UnitedHealthcare unit.
WellPoint, which is based in Indianapolis, said its extension starts June 1 and will extend coverage to all dependents.
"We've just tried to make it seamless so they don't experience any interruption in coverage," WellPoint spokeswoman Kristin Binns said.
The extension, which maintains coverage for young customers who generally use less healthcare, is not expected to affect premiums overall.
WellPoint, which operates Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in several states, and UnitedHealth are the two largest publicly traded health insurers.
Their extension offer received praise from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, a frequent industry critic.
Sebelius said in a statement from HHS that the department is encouraged by the two companies and is working with other insurers on similar proposals.
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