As you prepare to graduate from college, enter the workforce, or even start your master's degree, there is going to be a lot on your mind. No matter what your plans are, you need to know and understand that life can often be unpredictable. You may lose your job. The job you find may not provide you with comprehensive benefits. Your job may not provide you with any benefits at all. You may even find that the goals you made are not what you really want from life. All of this is fine, as long as you understand what goes along with these situations.
For many young adults, a big issue is health insurance. While you are in school, your parents' plan will most likely keep you covered, and many students will be able to remain on their parents' health insurance until age 26. After age 26 health insurance becomes your responsibility. Where are you supposed to find insurance if you are unemployed or in graduate school? It is extremely important for you to stay insured, no matter what stage of life you are in. There are great solutions to your healthcare problems, you just need to know and understand the options available.
The Affordable Care Act
Before the Affordable Care Act came along, insurance companies could remove children from a plan or policy at the age of 19. However, most insurance companies offered to keep children on the insurance plan after the age of 19 as long as they were enrolled in school on a full-time basis. Now, the Affordable Care Act allows parents to keep children on their health insurance to age 26. Many plans will keep you covered even if you are:
- Not living with your parents
- Attending school
- Not financially dependent on your parents
- Eligible to enroll in your employer's plan.
Things to Know About the Affordable Care Act
The Affordable Care Act is lengthy and far-reaching, and not every component of the act went into effect immediately after its passing. This means that over the next few years, policies regarding healthcare and insurance will be in a state of flux, and you should do your best to stay informed. If you are still on your parents' insurance or if you are about to turn 26, then your need for information is even greater. You should know what your rights are under the Affordable Care Act and what services you are entitled to.
Here is some of the important information you should know.
- You can now have health insurance up to the age of 26 as a dependent on your parents' insurance. Maybe you have already graduated college. Perhaps you are partaking in an internship experience. Maybe you are involved with a service experience such as Teach for America or City Year. Under the Affordable Care Act, most young adults under the age of 26 will be able to remain on their parents' healthcare plans.
- With the start of the Affordable Health Care Act, health plans must provide certain preventive services to the policyholder without cost sharing. Some of these preventive services include: blood pressure tests, well-baby visits, routine vaccinations, counseling during pregnancy, and flu shots. You can learn more about these services and the other types of preventive services by visiting HealthCare.gov.
- Come 2014, if you are unemployed and have a limited income of up to $15,000 a year for one person, then you might be able to receive health coverage through Medicaid.
- If your employer does not offer you health coverage or insurance, then starting in 2014 you will be able to purchase a policy through the Health Insurance Marketplace, which will help you find the right insurance at an affordable price. Open enrollment for the Marketplace begins on October 1, 2013.
- The Affordable Care Act also allows for certain tax credits to help pay for insurance if your income is less then approximately $43,000 for a single individual, and the company you work for does not offer affordable coverage. This particular benefit of the Affordable Care Act will not take effect until 2014.
- For more information about the Affordable Care Act, what is already in effect, and what the future of the Act looks like for you, then you should visit and read the timeline that the government provides.
Why Insurance Is Important for You
As someone who is in their early to mid-twenties, you might think that it is not a big concern to be without insurance. Maybe you are in good health, eat well, and exercise regularly, and you don't think you need insurance. However, you need to be aware that at any time an injury or illness can happen to you. This is just one of the many reasons why having insurance is important. If you are having a difficult time finding the right insurance coverage and are thinking about giving up, then you need to know why it is so important to have insurance.
Prevention: Many people do not seek out healthcare or treatment if they are not insured. Why? Simply because the cost of visiting a doctor for any reason is expensive, which means your condition, whether it be injury or illness, will most likely worsen. In the long run, having healthcare coverage is an investment in your present and future health. It is far less expensive to make routine trips to the doctor and dentist than to potentially pay for expensive surgeries or treatments later.
Out-of-Pocket Cost: One of the best reasons to have insurance is because it will ultimately save you money. Instead of paying $50 or more for a routine doctor's visit, you may only have to pay around $10. Any major medical procedures you may have to undergo will cost you significantly less if you are covered. Without insurance, you would have to pay those medical bills out of your own pocket, draining what savings you may have and potentially racking up debt. While you may not need all of the health coverage you are paying for, it will certainly be cheaper than any potential medical treatment or visit you have to make.
Peace of Mind: Another great thing insurance provides you with is a certain amount of peace. You will not have to worry about what will happen if you are injured or how you will pay your medical bills if you become sick. Insurance is not a reason to take extreme risks or tempt fate, but you can go about your day knowing you are covered in the event of an accident.
Short-Term Medical Insurance
As you prepare to leave your parents' insurance plan, you need to do your research and find a plan that will keep you covered until you find a job that offers you health insurance. Finding health insurance after age 26, while sometimes overwhelming, is not that difficult if you take your time and find the best solution for you. For many young adults, the right solution can be a short-term medical insurance plan. You are most likely in a transitional period in your life, a short-term medical insurance plan can provide the right amount of coverage for someone who is 26 or older. Some of the benefits of short-term medical insurance include:
Flexibility in Coverage: Short-term medical insurance policies are slightly different from a typical medical insurance plan. Because you are purchasing a plan that is not meant to be a long-term solution and because you are in a transitional time in your life, you will be able to find more flexible coverage options. Some of these options will allow you to choose your maximum, your coinsurance, and even your copayment. As you are looking for an insurance solution, keep in mind that plans with higher maximums and coinsurance will cost you more every month because you are purchasing more coverage.
Affordability: Since your plan is going to be tailored somewhat to fit your needs, it may be much more affordable than a regular insurance policy. For someone in a transitional period, saving money can mean a lot. You may think that foregoing an insurance policy altogether will save you more money, but investing in your health is a worthy expense, especially if you become injured or ill.
Coverage Duration: Another great benefit of a short-term medical policy is that the coverage duration can be tailored to fit your needs. If you know before you purchase that you are only going to need coverage for a few months, you will be able to purchase it for just those months. However, if you do not know how long you are going to need it, many insurance companies will work with you and you will be able to renew your policy for up to 364 days.