While some graduates are fortunate to have found jobs already, many are still looking. For those individuals, along with paying the rent and putting food on the table, an immediate concern may also be where and how they can acquire affordable health care coverage. Even for some graduates who have jobs, their employers may not necessarily provide healthcare coverage, or their employers may have up to a 90-day waiting period before benefits kick in.
Thankfully, graduates have more health care coverage options than they may realize. As a consumer-savvy generation, just a little extra information and understanding of the insurance landscape will empower you to find the right plan. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.
- Examine your current student health coverage. Some student health plans will cover you beyond graduation, but every plan is different. If you have student health insurance, find out when your coverage will end.
- Talk to your parent or guardian. The Affordable Care Act allows children to stay on their parents’ plans until age 26. If you are already on your parent’s plan, make sure everyone is on the same page as to how long you’ll stay on that policy. Graduates wanting to join their parents’ plans will have to enroll during open enrollment or a special enrollment period.
- Learn about special enrollment periods and subsidies. Under the Affordable Care Act, you can only enroll in health coverage during open enrollment or if you qualify for a special enrollment period. While college graduation isn’t a qualifying event, you may qualify due to another life event such as losing your student health plan coverage. You can compare coverage options at HealthCare.gov and see if you qualify for a subsidy.
- Consider term health insurance. If you have a gap between graduation and starting a job, term health insurance can serve as a bridge until you enroll in another plan. You can search for these plans at AgileHealthInsurance.com, where the application process is simple, and you can receive your insurance card in minutes. Term health insurance generally has lower premiums than Obamacare plans, but applications are approved or rejected based on health status, including the nature of pre-existing conditions. Additionally, consumers may still be subject to the Obamacare Tax depending on how long they have the coverage and whether they qualify for one of several exemptions. Here is information on the exemption for a short gap in coverage: https://www.healthcare.gov/exemptions-tool/#/results/2015/details/short-gap
At this transitional time in life, arm yourself with knowledge to make the most informed, cost-effective healthcare choice that suits your needs and fits your budget. The seemingly daunting, confusing landscape of health care coverage rules and regulations can in fact be broken down into bit-sized, understandable nuggets of information. Start by making sure you understand the benefits offered by different plans, as well as what terms like “premium” and “deductible” refer to. And familiarize yourself with the Affordable Care Act — what it requires of you, if you are eligible to receive a subsidy and what the penalty is for not having ACA health insurance. In some instances, health care plans outside of the ACA may work well for you and still be less expensive even when factoring in the penalty you would pay.
Again, congratulations on graduating. Enjoy this new stage of adulthood. While serious responsibilities come at this time, you can position yourself for success and financial security by taking the time to understand all options in all facets of life.
This is a sponsored post written for AfterCollege courtesy of insurance expert Sam Gibbs, executive director of Agilehealthinsurance.com, a leading marketplace of term health plans.