Class of 2010 Gets Graduation Gift of Healthcare

Fulltime students are usually kept on their parents insurance through college, but when graduation time rolls around they’re expected to find a job that provides benefits, buy an expensive individual policy or more common, go without healthcare and pray that their good health continues.

Part of Obama’s new Health Care Reform law would enable young people below the age of 26 to maintain health coverage on their parents’ plans. However, that mandate will not take place until September 23 of this year.

On Monday, however, major health insurance providers made a surprise announcement that they would enact this aspect of the law ahead of schedule. United Healthcare, Humana, Kaiser Permanente and WellPoint have all agreed to allow those under 26 to stay on beyond graduation.

Given the scarcity of jobs, especially those that offer benefits, this news couldn’t come at a better time for seniors. reports that each healthcare provider is doing this differently, but lists a few helpful notes:

  • Humana -- The change will go into effect immediately. As long as you still are insured on your parents' plan, you will be able to stay on that plan until age 26 or until you are able to get insurance yourself.
  • Kaiser -- Plans to extend coverage before Sept. 23 for people on individual plans, but an actual date has not been set for the extension to take effect. If your parents get their coverage from Kaiser through an employer, it will depend upon what the employer decides. Kaiser is in discussions with employers now. Your parents may want to talk with the human resources at their company to find out what the company plans to do.
  • UnitedHealthcare -- The change will go into effect immediately for individual and group plans. But, if your parents' employer is self-insured, their employer would have to agree to the change. About 11 million people are enrolled in self-insured plans. Check with your company human resources department to find out what they plan to do.
  • WellPoint, which operates 14 Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans nationally -- The change will take effect on June 1.

Most importantly, if you’re a graduating senior, discuss this with your parents now so you can avoid a gap in coverage.

Unfortunately, they're only changing the eligibility date for people who are currently on their parents' plans. So, even if you're college aged, if you don't currently have insurance you’ll have to wait until the new laws take effect in September.