Local Congresswoman Lois Capps and the Obama administration are working with insurance companies on a health care provision that would extend coverage for young adults.

Beginning in September, the Health Care Reform Bill will allow individuals under 26 years of age to stay on their parents’ plan, provided they do not receive health care coverage from their employer. Capps is currently pushing for a revision that would cover all youth 26 and under, regardless of employee status.

Furthermore, Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius recently announced that Blue Cross, Blue Shield, Humana, Kaiser Permanente, WellPoint and UnitedHealthcare will bridge any gap in health care coverage for students graduating in June prior to the bill’s implementation this fall.

In a statement, Capps noted that Sebelius and the Obama administration have been “working to guarantee timely implementation of the health insurance reform benefits and protection, helping to ensure that young people are not without health insurance coverage for even a few months.”

Ashley Schapitl, Capps’ press secretary, said creators of the current Health Care Reform Bill hope to protect students during a time of high unemployment.
“Given the particular uncertainty of the job market, we thought it would be great to keep students on their parents’ plan until their 26th birthday,” Schapitl said. “Only 53 percent of young people ages 18 to 29 are offered coverage through their job so, even if you have a job after you graduate, it is not guaranteed that you will be offered full coverage.”

One in three people ages 19 to 34 are currently uninsured, though the recently passed bill will eventually provide 32 million uninsured Americans with health coverage.
Chloe Stryker, a second-year political science major, said she thinks the bill’s passage will make life easier for students post-graduation.

“The bill is really helpful because many people will go on to obtain higher degrees, and paying for insurance is just one less burden that they will have to face,” Stryker said. “Most entry level jobs people get coming out of college don’t offer suitable health care coverage, so this reform would be helpful both for people going into the workforce or moving forward in their education.”

The current bill also offers preventive care to all people under newly insured plans. Capps hopes that this will create a system that prevents disease and illness before treatment is necessary, eventually saving young people huge sums of money.

Paul Herzlich, a third-year psychology major, said these provisions will help young adults wishing to focus on finding a suitable career rather than securing any job that will pay the bills.

“I think that the bill is definitely a good thing,” Herzlich said. “It allows students to focus on other costs if their parents can cover them, so it will allow them to focus on getting into the job world instead.”

Under prior law, young adults over 18 only qualified for coverage under a parent’s plan if they remained full-time students and had not reached age 23.