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More Support for Young Adults

White House Health Reform Director Nancy-Ann DeParle explains how young adults can get coverage as a result of health reform, and answers recent questions about tax implications.

When health insurance reform became the law of the land, we knew our work was just beginning.  While passing the law was a tremendous accomplishment, the President and his Administration are now focused on the next challenge: making sure the law is implemented smoothly, quickly, and effectively.  In fact, the day after the bill passed, the first thing the President asked of his senior staff was “Where are we on implementation?”

One of the most important provisions in health reform for young adults and their families is the new provision that allows young adults to stay on their parents’ health care plan until age 26.  This provision takes effect on September 23, 2010, and it could help more than 4.7 million uninsured young Americans.

But we knew that some young adults graduating from college this spring could risk losing their health insurance before the provision takes effect, only to be added back onto their parents’ policy the next time their parents’ plan comes up for renewal on or after September 23rd.  That was bad news for families and bad news for insurance companies too.  Removing an individual from a health insurance plan and then adding them back on a few months later takes time, and it costs money.

That’s why on April 19, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius called on leading insurance companies to begin covering young adults voluntarily before the September 23 implementation date required by the new health reform law.  Early implementation would avoid gaps in coverage for new college graduates and other young adults and save on insurance company administrative costs of dis-enrolling and re-enrolling them between May 2010 and September 23, 2010.   Early enrollment will also enable young, overwhelmingly healthy people who will not engender large insurance costs to stay in the insurance pool.

And we’re pleased to report that the following insurance companies are doing just that:

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Delaware
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Arizona, Inc.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida
Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Hawaii
Blue Shield of California
Blue Cross of Idaho Health Service
Regence Blue Shield of Idaho
Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa
Health Care Service Corporation
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas
Blue Cross Blue Shield Association
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
WellPoint, Inc.
CareFirst BlueCross and BlueShield
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Nebraska
Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi
Horizon Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Jersey, Inc.
HealthNow New York, Inc.
The Regence Group
Excellus Blue Cross and Blue Shield
Capital BlueCross
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina
Independence Blue Cross
BlueCross BlueShield of North Dakota
Highmark, Inc.
Blue Cross of Northeastern Pennsylvania
BlueCross and BlueShield of Tennessee
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont
Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island
Premera Blue Cross
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Carolina
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Wyoming
Kaiser Permanente
Capital District Physicians’ Health Plan (CDPHP), Albany, New York
Capital Health Plan, Tallahassee, Florida
Care Oregon, Portland, Oregon
Emblem Health, New York, New York
Fallon Community Health Plan, Worcester, Massachusetts
Geisinger Health Plan, Danville, Pennsylvania
Group Health, Seattle, Washington
Group Health Cooperative Of South Central Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin
Health Partners, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Independent Health, Buffalo, New York
Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Oakland, California
Martin’s Point Health Care, Portland, Maine
New West Health Services, Helena, Mt
The Permanente Federation, Oakland, California
Priority Health, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Scott & White Health Plan, Temple, Texas
Security Health Plan, Marshfield, Wisconsin
Tufts Health Plan, Waltham, Massachusetts
UCARE, Minneapolis, Minnesota
UPMC Health Plan, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 

Today, we marked another step forward in our work to provide coverage to young adults with the release of new guidance from the Internal Revenue Service specifically stating that children can be covered tax-free now on their parents' health insurance policy.  The new guidance also discusses incentives the Affordable Care Act provides for employers to immediately extend health insurance coverage to young adults.

This new guidance will help employers as they work to provide better benefits to their employees and cover more Americans.  To learn more, check out the press release and fact sheet (pdf).

Nancy-Ann DeParle is Director of the White House Office of Health Reform