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Healthcare reform helps student insurance

WASHINGTON, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- Students, who purchase health insurance coverage through their U.S. college or university, benefit from healthcare reform protection, health officials say.

Kathleen Sibelius, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, says a college student will often purchase student health insurance from his or her college if family coverage is not available, or is unaffordable, and these policies vary widely. Some offer only limited benefits, some have low annual dollar limits and some have limited networks of doctors and other healthcare providers.

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"The proposed regulation would ensure students enrolled in these plans benefit from important consumer protections created by the Affordable Care Act by clarifying that these plans will be defined as 'individual health insurance,'" Sibelius says in a statement.

"This rule would ensure that these plans remain a viable, affordable option for students while guaranteeing that they are regulated consistently and offer transparent benefits to students."

Under the proposed rules, the new health insurance protections include:

-- No lifetime limits on coverage on health benefits in student health plans.

-- Insurance companies can no longer drop coverage when student health plan enrollees make an unintentional mistake on an application.

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-- Insurance companies cannot deny or exclude coverage for students age 19 and under because of a pre-existing condition.

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