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"It's a problem that spans the income spectrum," Collins said.
Before the law takes effect, some young adults who are graduating from college or otherwise becoming ineligible to stay on their parents' plans may want to buy insurance through COBRA to bridge any gap in coverage. But that can be expensive; there are also short-term plans that can be found through Web sites like http://www.ehealthinsurance.com/.
The law will help Portland, Ore., mother Jessie Edwards sleep better at night. The nurse practitioner will be able to get both her young adult children covered as dependents on her insurance. Her 23-year-old son is losing his insurance this month, and her 25-year-old daughter has been uninsured for two years.
What frightens Edwards most is the possibility of one of them getting into an accident, she said. "What would we do? How would we cover that?"
Pat and John Curry of Augusta, Ga., have two daughters, ages 23 and 21. Without the new law, the older daughter would lose coverage on the family health plan at her next birthday.
"It would be a tremendous relief to us if we could keep them on our insurance," Pat Curry said. "This is something that would give them just a little more time to get their feet under them with the economy the way it is."
Lawson bought her college graduate daughter, Katie Byrne, catastrophic coverage on the independent market, so she wouldn't be completely uninsured while she searches for a job with benefits. But the $100-a-month plan does not include doctor visits. Meanwhile, Lawson's 19-year-old son is still covered.
"My son can go to a doctor if he twists his knee playing soccer and it's a $15 copay," Lawson said. "Then I have a daughter who does not have the same benefits. It illustrates for me what a lot of Americans face."
Under Pennsylvania law, Lawson's employer could choose to offer coverage for dependents up to age 30, but her employer has decided not to do so.
In the meantime, Lawson plans to fill an Easter basket with dental floss, medications and other health items for her daughter.
She is encouraging her daughter to stay healthy while they wait to get her back on Lawson's plan.
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