This is the second in a series of posts on the benefits of the Affordable Care Act.

As you’ve probably seen over the course of the last few days, in celebration of the six month mark since the signing of the Affordable Care Act, Community Catalyst is highlighting the provisions that take effect starting on September 23, 2010. We’ve previously posted about one of the most important of these provisions—the expansion of dependent coverage to young adults up to age 26. However, given that this improvement in coverage takes effect on Thursday, we wanted to again call attention to the key aspects of this reform.

In short, young adults are now generally eligible for coverage under their parents’ health plan as long as they are under age 26 and have a parent with a plan that offers dependent coverage. This provision fully applies to all health plans (including self-insured plans) with the exception of grandfathered plans (those in existence prior to March 23, 2010). Grandfathered plans have the option of excluding young adults who have access to other employer-sponsored coverage but this exception goes away in 2014.

Another important point about this expansion of dependent coverage is that you don’t have to be tax dependent to qualify. It also doesn’t matter if you are married or single, in school or not, or employed or not. The point of the provision is to serve as a tool to expand coverage as widely as possible to young adults under age 26.

Young adults are among the most likely to be uninsured, since many of them work in jobs without benefits. This is why this provision is such an important step forward and this becomes even clearer when you realize that in 2011 alone, as many as 2.12 million young adults could have new dependent coverage as a result of this provision.

Wondering if you or someone you know is eligible? Our partners at Young Invincibles have developed a quick and easy online tool to help you answer that question. You can access this tool here. By asking a few short questions, this resource provides the information that young adults need to find out about their health insurance options in the wake of national health reform. And be sure to check out the rest of the site, Getting Covered, for even more information about the dependent coverage expansion.

We tip our hats to all those who worked so hard to make this provision broadly inclusive. Millions of young adults will benefit from increased health care security and the freedom to pursue their dreams without the worry of whether or not that will mean risking their health to do so.

— Kris Bloch, Survey Analyst — Patrick Tigue, Children’s Health Care Coordinator, New England Alliance for Children’s Health