A series of changes sparked by the health care law passed earlier this year will begin to take hold later this week, increasing access for individuals with disabilities.

Starting Thursday, insurers will no longer be able to deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions. Lifetime coverage limits will also largely disappear. And, it will become harder for insurance companies to cancel coverage or deny claims.

At the same time, insurance plans will be required to include certain preventive services such as vaccinations at no cost. What’s more, kids will be able to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until they turn 26.

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The changes are some of the first to be phased in over the next four years. While they begin taking effect Thursday, the new requirements won’t kick in for many consumers until their insurance plan renews, which often occurs Jan. 1. In some cases, those who purchase insurance as individuals may have to establish a new plan in order to reap the new benefits.

Disability advocates have hailed the changes in the health care law as momentous for those with special needs.