Minneapolis, MN – Graduation season has commenced, and as college seniors plan their next steps, healthinsurance.org has five tips for staying insured during this transition.
Known as “young invincibles,” young adults are not always convinced that purchasing health insurance is a good value. But since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), choosing new coverage – or holding on to existing coverage – has become much easier.
“Even if you are young and healthy, going without coverage can be costly,” said Louise Norris, a licensed agent and analyst for healthinsurance.org. “This is an exciting time, and starting off on the right foot means thinking about your financial future. An accident or serious illness while uninsured could lead to costly medical bills that would set you back.”
Here are five ways for college grads to avoid a gap in coverage:
Stay on your parent’s insurance. Before the ACA, it was common for health insurance plans to drop dependents as soon as they graduated college. But the ACA changed that, requiring almost all health plans that offer dependent coverage to allow young adults to remain on a parent’s plan until they turn 26. If young adults have coverage under a parent’s plan, graduation no longer requires a mad scramble to find new health insurance.
Buy an individual plan on the ACA marketplace. For new grads wanting robust coverage, an ACA plan covering essential health benefits and pre-existing conditions could be an ideal solution. ACA plans are available in every state, either through a state-run exchange or HealthCare.gov. Income-based premium subsidies and cost-sharing reductions are available through the exchange to make coverage and care more affordable.
“Thanks to a new federal law, individual health insurance has never been more affordable,” Norris said. “The American Rescue Plan enhanced the ACA’s premium subsidies to make coverage more affordable for young adults –and frankly anyone –who have to buy their own health insurance.”
Purchase a short-term plan. Short-term health insurance can tide college graduates over until another policy kicks in. Even for grads who have a job lined up right away, employers often have a waiting period before health insurance coverage is available to new hires. Short-term health insurance is designed for exactly that sort of scenario, and it can be easy on the wallet.
Check Medicaid eligibility. Medicaid is a health insurance program for low-income individuals and those with disabilities. It covers pre-existing conditions, and enrollment is available year-round.
In 38 states, Medicaid has been expanded to cover all adults with income up to 138 percent of the poverty level. In 2022, that’s $18,754 for a single individual (it’s higher in Alaska and Hawaii). For a new grad living in a state where Medicaid has been expanded, this could be a perfect solution during the time it might take to find a job.
Get coverage through a new employer. Getting health coverage through an employer is probably the path that most college grads envision, and it’s an excellent option if it becomes available. Employer-sponsored health insurance generally offers substantial benefits, and employers typically pay a large portion of the premiums.
Healthinsurance.org provides free, online resources for consumers, , including information about individual health insurance, major medical insurance and affordable medical insurance.
Amy Fletcher Faircloth [email protected]