Senator Kemp Hannon
6th District New York
Empire to Extend Health Care Coverage to Age 26

Senator Hannonís Latest Health Watch Update:

Empire BlueCross BlueShield Announces Plan to Extend Health Care Coverage for Many Young Americans


Coverage for dependents to age 26 to continue with no increase in insurance premiums

NEW YORK, April 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Empire BlueCross BlueShield, New York's largest health insurer, announced today that it will take steps to prevent a gap in coverage that could leave many young Americans uninsured.

Each year in June, many individuals are no longer eligible as dependents on their parents' insurance policies because of their age, student status or other factors. Health care reform legislation, signed into law last month, will extend the dependent age for coverage to 26 for plan years beginning September 23, 2010.  As such, many individuals would face a coverage gap during the months before this provision is fully implemented.

As a proactive measure to assist its members, Empire will allow young men and women to remain on their parents' policies even before this health care reform provision takes effect. Beginning June 1, Empire will automatically retain these young individuals on their parents' policies in both fully insured group and individual health plans. Self insured clients and members will have the option of not offering this extended coverage.

"Protecting access to health benefits for members is our first priority," said Empire's President and CEO, Mark Wagar.  "We are pleased to lead the way in advancing the intent of health care reform and increasing access to affordable, quality coverage."


Empire BlueCross BlueShield

Empire BlueCross BlueShield (Empire) is the trade name of Empire HealthChoice Assurance, Inc., and Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield HMO is the trade name of Empire HealthChoice HMO, Inc., independent licensees of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, serving residents and businesses in the 28 eastern and southeastern counties of New York State.  Additional information about Empire is available at www.empireblue.com.


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